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Fighting for Respect in Urban High Schools


by Annette Hemmings — 2003

This article explores the crisis of respect needed to establish authority in two urban public high schools. The crisis was fueled by discourses with conflicting speech and normative codes that undermined the moral order in classrooms and corridors and caused students and teachers to fight for respect. In classrooms, the battles for respect were fought in defense of the dominant educational regime and control over the daily regimen of pedagogical practice. In corridors, students moved between the opposing poles of mainstream respectability and streetwise reputation as they vied for power in peer relations. The article concludes with recommendations for resolving the fight based on school-wide reform efforts and for addressing the conflicting discourses in a manner that engenders mutual respect between teachers and students in urban public high schools.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 3, 2003, p. 416-437
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11543, Date Accessed: 7/24/2017 10:40:06 AM

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About the Author
  • Annette Hemmings
    University of Cincinnati
    E-mail Author
    ANNETTE HEMMINGS is an associate professor in the Educational Foundations Program at the University of Cincinnati. She is a qualitative researcher who has conducted extensive fieldwork in high schools on teachers’ work lives, the identity work of Black student achievers, classroom democratic dialogues, and student youth culture. Her recent publications include “Youth Culture of Hostility: Discourses of Money, Respect and Difference” in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education and “High School Democratic Dialogues: Possibilities for Praxis” in the American Educational Research Journal. She also has published articles in Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Youth and Society, and The High School Journal. Dr. Hemmings is currently completing a book on how graduating seniors in urban and suburban public high schools were coming of age in economic, kinship, religious, and political domains of American life.
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