Monday, February 17, 2014

Talking Points #2 on Raby: A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence- Rebecca C. Raby (Reflection/Hyperlinks)

Although I brought up reality television, in my first blog post, I cannot help but mentally compare everything I read to media, specifically television and pop culture...

In this text, Raby examines the five dominant Western discourses of adolescence: the storm, becoming, at-risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumption. All of these discourses obviously connect and bounce off of one another to create an idea of teenagers that construct a new teen culture. This leads to a cycle that benefits and continuously redefines the image of teenagers. For now, I’d like to focus on just two of these discourses: at-risk and pleasurable consumption.

As the teen culture is redefined and molded by social and media representation, Raby points out that businesses follow these changes so that they can target and adapt to the teenage audience, which has been recognized as the largest group for pleasurable consumerism. Raby primarily discusses this topic in terms of shopping, but the teen audience is targeted in other areas as well, such as magazines, and television because 1. Media is a valuable source for advertising and 2. Teens invest in technology and media, making it a large market. Not to mention, most teens look to media for popular trends in areas like fashion and music as they are sent the message to define themselves through self-expression. Once these teens begin to self-express, businesses once again look to these self-expressions for more marketing campaigns, supporting Raby’s statement: “Consumerism and adolescence become equated (p.347)”

The focus on television for not only advertisements towards the teenage audience, but also for shows that will attract the teenage audience, have led to many reality television shows or shows in general that reflect the social view of teens (in the United States). These shows, mostly created by mostly ADULTS, provide an interpretation of teen life that influences the way all people (including teens themselves) see the youth.

As the creators of these shows reflect teen life, the paradox that Raby points out within the discourse is supported. Teens are taught to prepare for the future and be responsible but also be consumers and have fun. However, when they participate in consumerism to acquire their identity through the “neo-liberal freedom of spending (p.437)”, they see television shows about “at-risk” teenagers, and wild teenage life which send a variety of mixed-messages.

The main television show I couldn’t stop thinking about while reading this article that supports the framing of teens as “at-risk” is the reality show "16 and Pregnant". My mother had me at 16 years old while she was in high school, and because of this, many people assume that I am also “at-risk” of becoming a teen mom or of other “risks” like drugs, alcohol, depression, eating disorders, etc. While statistically, this could be supported, this bothers me because people generally see my mothers teen pregnancy as a negative thing that will ruin her life and my own based off of the negative representations of teen pregnancies from television shows.

“Girls are more likely to be considered at risk while boys are more likely to be treated as a social problem (p.435).”: This quote stuck out to me because I believe the consideration of girls as "at-risk" is supported by these media representations of teens, specifically girls with a focus on pregnancy, and that boys are treated as a social problem because they're presented as the causes of the pregnancy, a.k.a the "problem".

Questions/Comments/Points To Share: How does this article compare to and support the Croteau text? (Media and Ideology)


  1. I loved your post :) I can't stand some of the assumptions people make such such as the one you stated (the 16 and pregnant example). Of course it could happen like you said, but this goes with everything in life.. ANYTHING can happen. I love the picture you posted too.. these are the assumptions that some people do make and assume are the realities.

  2. I like how you said that television such as reality shows and advertisements are geared towards the teenage audience and leads the audience to reflect the general social views of teens. I think that is true, 16 and pregnant does provide only the negative representations of teens and frames it as being "at risk."

  3. I loved reading your post. you made a really really boring and painful article fun for me to read about, so thank you!!

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