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System KidsAdolescent Mothers and the Politics of Regulation$
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Lauren J. Silver

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622590

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622590.001.0001

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I Am Young. I’m Not Dumb; and I’m Not Anxious

I Am Young. I’m Not Dumb; and I’m Not Anxious

Identity Performances as Service Negotiation

(p.104) Chapter Four I Am Young. I’m Not Dumb; and I’m Not Anxious
System Kids

Lauren J. Silver

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter presents a case study of Nyisha, a young mother, as she negotiated housing with officials from the Public Housing Authority. Material deficits, spatial barriers, and bureaucratic procedures have restricted the storylines clients and officials used to make sense of one another. The youth have performed their identities according to system-sanctioned expectations because successful negotiations have been essential to receiving services. In this instance, Nyisha felt compelled to reveal her identity as a rape survivor in order to justify access to a safe residence. It is important to understand that youth performances do not always reflect internalizations of victim or other punitive identities. The youth are resilient in managing impressions for their regulators. Yet at the same time, the injustice of pushing clients like Nyisha to mold and “use” personal trauma to justify access to basic necessities must be recognized.

Keywords:   Public Housing Authority, identity performance, service negotiation, youth performances, punitive identities

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