teenager's status in the eyes of his or
her peers is extremely important to most
adolescents. Why this near obsession
with status? It is because they have so
little economic or political power.
They must attend school for most of the
day and they have only very limited
influence on what happens there. They
are pressured to learn complex and
esoteric knowledge like algebra,
chemistry, and European history, which
rarely has immediate relevance to their
day-to-day lives. They do, however,
have once crucial kind of power: the
power to create an informal social world
in which they evaluate one another.
That is, they can and do create their
own status systems--usually based on
criteria that are quite different from
those promoted by parents or teachers.
In short, the main kind if power
teenagers have is status power.
Predictably, their status in the eyes of
their peers becomes very important in
their day-to-day lives.
Freaks, Geeks, and Cool
Teenagers, Schools, and the Culture of