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Social structure and peer terminology in a black adolescent gang*

  • Teresa Labov (a1)

Studies of the social organization of adolescent groups may not have always taken into account sufficiently the dual reality of the groups in which much of the youths' activities occur. Peer terminology is useful in locating and describing the associational patterns and activities of the youth, but only if the range of possible terms is considerably broadened. It was found in a study of a Harlem street gang that such language may appear ambiguous, but when studied systematically in the interaction between interviewer and members, the misunderstandings become transparent. Peer terminological practices can be used to provide further knowledge of the reality of the social organization of adolescent primary groups. (Peer terminology, primary groups, misunderstanding, interviewing, juvenile delinquency, urban black adolescent language; verbal tags.)

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Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
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