Preference as Performance: Doing Social Class and Gender in Three School Libraries

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This study examines the construct of reader preference along the lines of gender and social class. Data were collected through focused interviews and participant observation from one third-grade class in each of three elementary school libraries that served children from a range of ethnic and social class backgrounds. The study argues that children's expressions of preference are often enactments of what they believe it means to be categorically male or female, whereas their ways of relating to different genres of text, as well as how they choose to read, often enact the “habitus,” or material logic, of their social class. This analysis is complicated by three events in which the doing of gender or class by students is interrupted by stronger desires. The article concludes with a reconsideration of preference as a construct, and questions why educators might want to know what children like to read in the first place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-361
Number of pages43
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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