(De)Constructing the student body: a post-structural analysis of dress codes in secondary schools

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Laura Anne Drewicz Ewing (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Leila Villaverde

Abstract: This thesis conducts a post-structural analysis of the bodily management demanded by the wording and enforcement of dress codes in the secondary school setting as well as potential sites for resistance. Specifically, in chapter one, this project uses the work of three theorists - Judith Butler, Michele Foucault, and Sara Ahmed - to historicize discourses around the body in Western philosophy and sociopolitical life and to apply a post-structural lens to the deconstruction of both the body and the dress codes applied to bodies in secondary school settings. What follows in chapter two is an application of the theoretical deconstruction to actual dress codes from twenty-eight Guilford County public schools and three secular, independent schools in Guilford County, North Carolina. This is accomplished through a process of thematic coding and textual analysis, which reveals the ideal body that students should have, according to the parameters of the dress code: white, male, heteronormative, middle class, and professional. Finally, based on both the historicized philosophical and sociopolitical discourses of the body and the concrete analyses of dress codes in secular secondary schools in Guilford County, chapter three delves into potentials for resistance, both large and small, to dress codes. Having revealed dress codes' multiple vectors of social control, chapter three reveals both the subtle, everyday resistances that are possible through subversive repetition and appropriation as well as the intersectional resistance through which to incite cultural crises in order to broad structural changes in the construction, regulation, surveillance, disciplining, and punishment of bodies. The overall message that these analyses, both philosophical and concrete, reveal is the highly political meaning of the body, of education, and of the body in education, which makes imperative a future semiotic analysis of language around bodies, language in dress codes, and bodies themselves as well as deep exploration of the process and meaning of learning in a body.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Deconstruction, Dress code, Embodiment, Neoliberalism, Post-structural, Secondary schools
Dress codes $z United States
Clothing and dress $x Social aspects
Students $x Clothing $z United States

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