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From Nerds to Normals: The Recovery of Identity among Adolescents from Middle School to High School

David A. Kinney
Sociology of Education
Vol. 66, No. 1 (Jan., 1993), pp. 21-40
DOI: 10.2307/2112783
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2112783
Page Count: 20
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From Nerds to Normals: The Recovery of Identity among Adolescents from Middle School to High School
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Abstract

Extensive attention has been given to understanding the nature of adolescent identity, but little consideration has been given to the everyday social experiences and processes by which the content of teenagers' self-perceptions are formed and remain stable or change within educational settings. Since studies have focused on members of "popular" cliques or "deviant" subcultures, it is important to examine the daily lives of teenagers whose peers have labeled them unpopular "nerds" in schools to document how these adolescents are able to overcome the stigma of this label. Using intensive interviews and observations, this study delineated the impact of school activities, school social structure, and peer culture on the self-perceptions of nerds. The findings indicate that adolescents who were unpopular in middle school and who became involved in high school activities and friendship groups were able to recover by becoming self-confident and reconstructing themselves as "normal" within a changing school social system.

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