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Jocks and Burnouts

The fieldwork for this project took place between 1980 and 1982. It involved two years of ethnographic work in one high school in the Detroit suburbs that I call "Belten High", and one to two months in each of four other Detroit suburban schools.

In all of these schools, there was a hegemonic opposition between two social categories, referred to as jocks and burnouts. The jocks are a school-oriented community of practice, embodying middle class culture. The burnouts are a locally-oriented community of practice, embodying working class culture. This kind of split occurs in many schools across the country, sometimes corresponding to ethnic boundaries as well.
The project focuses on the Northern Cities Shift, shown at the bottom of this page. Variation in the vowels involved in this shift correlate not only with category affiliation, but with practices associated with the categories.

Publications from this research:

ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1989. Jocks and burnouts: Social categories and identity in the high school. New York: Teachers College Press.
ECKERT, PENELOPE. 2000. Linguistic variation as social practice. Oxford: Blackwell.

ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1980. Clothing and geography in a suburban high school. Researching American culture, ed. by Conrad Phillip Kottak, 45-48. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press139-45.
ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1983. Beyond the statistics of adolescent smoking. American journal of public health, 73.439-41.
ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1987. Relative values of opposing variables. NWAVE 15 at Stanford, ed. by Keith M. Denning, Sharon Inkelas, Faye C. McNair-Knox and John R. Rickford, 101-10. Stanford: Depsrtment of Linguistics, Stanford University.
ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1988. Sound change and adolescent social structure. Language in Society, 17.183
ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1990. The whole woman: Sex and gender differences in variation. Language Variation and Change, 1.245-67.
ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1990. Cooperative competition in adolescent girl talk. Discourse Processes, 13.92-122.
ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1990. Adolescent social categories, information and science learning. Toward a scientific practice of science education, ed. by Marjorie Gardner, James Greeno, Frederick Reif and Alan Schoenfeld, 203-17. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum.
ECKERT, PENELOPE and WENGER, ETIENNE. 1994. From school to work: An apprenticeship in institutional identity. Working papers on learning and identity: Institute for Research on Learning.
ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1995. Adolescent trajectory and forms of institutional participation. Pathways Through Adolescence: Individual Development in Relation to Social Contexts., ed. by Lisa Crockett and Ann Crouter, 175-96. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1996. Vowels and nailpolish: The emergence of linguistic style in the preadolescent heterosexual marketplace. Gender and belief systems, ed. by Jocelyn Ahlers et al. Berkeley: Berkeley women and language group.