Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Teaching and Learning
Gail Masuchika Boldt
While many adolescents list unstructured "hangout" spaces as central to their social lives and activities, the availability of such spaces has dramatically declined in the last two decades, and attendance at afterschool programs has increased. Concurrently, these programs have drawn new scrutiny: from researchers eager to show their educational value, and from funders and policy makers seeking measureable evidence of that value. Even youth centers that were deliberately designed to give young people a space to "hang out" have been forced to reorganize due to the pressure to demonstrate program results. In this dissertation, through participant-observation, archival documents, and interviews with youth workers and young people, the author investigates and critiques the complex politics of representation in the funding, research, and day-to-day existence of one unstructured youth program, the Youth Action Alliance's offering known simply as Hang Out. Rather than producing a unified picture of Hang Out, the author takes a non-dialectic approach, using poststructuralist and posthuman theory to propose multiple plausible and powerful perspectives, and to explore their productive tensions with one another.
Copyright 2012 Jennifer R. Teitle