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Critical Youth Studies Reader

Preface by Paul Willis

Awad Ibrahim and Shirley R. Steinberg

This book won the 2014 AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award.

This reader begins a conversation about the many aspects of critical youth studies. Chapters in this volume consider essential issues such as class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, cultural capital, and schooling in creating a dialogue about and a conversation with youth. In a society that continues to devalue, demonize, and pathologize young women and men, leading names in the academy and youth communities argue that traditional studies of youth do not consider young people themselves. Engaging with today’s young adults in formal and informal pedagogical settings as an act of respect, social justice, and transgression creates a critical pedagogical path in which to establish a meaningful twenty-first century critical youth studies.
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15 Reading the Wallpaper: Disrupting Performances of Whiteness in the Blog, “Stuff White People Like”

← 171 | 172 →CHAPTER 15


In everyday culture, including youth cultures, patterns of dominance come to be invisible, even though they are not hidden. Through constant repetition, dominance becomes simply the way the world is; what Hannah Arendt called many years ago, “the organization of a texture of life” (Arendt, 1973, p. 363). Rather than being an underlying, hidden reality, dominance is in plain sight (Abrams, 1988; Stanley, 2009). However, through repetition, its patterns are unrecognized, something in the background that is constantly repeated to the point of banality (Billig, 1995). Patterns of dominance become the wallpaper of everyday culture, invisible to those who re-enact dominance even as they do so. Even for those for whom the resulting physical and psychic violence is all too real, when read against the wallpaper that naturalizes this violence, their experiences can seem unremarkable, their oppression normal, and their resistance solitary, until something makes a hole in the wallpaper or tears it apart. Bumps, holes, and tears; disruptions of the repeating pattern make the wallpaper itself visible. Sharp moments of resistance, voicing excluded knowledges, discoveries of shared histories of exclusion, and resistance, the naming of acts of dominance as dominance, make the wallpaper visible (e.g., see Fanon, 1967/1991; hooks, 1984). Holes create possibilities for tearing the wallpaper down and ending its repetitions (Kumashiro, 2002).

In the following, we explore the wallpaper of popular racism in the form of White supremacy in online social media. We argue that the wallpaper becomes visible in the moments of disruption—the...

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