Dealing with the Mean Girl: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Teachers Resource Material

Thumbnail Image
Bethune, Jennifer
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Mount Saint Vincent University
In this project, I examine how girl bullying and the "mean girl" phenomenon are produced in teacher resource materials. I undertake a critical discourse analysis of four texts including two teaching guides, a picture book, and an informal article from an education trade magazine, guided by the following research questions: 1. What are the discourses of girlhood, gender, education, and bullying that shape these texts? 2. what are the political, social, and discursive effects of this body pragmatic literature? In an analysis informed by Foucault's (1977,1990/1976) notion of disciplinary power and Butler's (1990) theories of gender and subjectivity, I argue that these teacher resource materials construct gender and femininity in ways that entrench gender stereotypes and limit the ways in which gendered subjectivity may be taken up by young people. Furthermore, I suggest that the texts serve as a technology of disciplinary power that regulates feminine subjectivity. I argue that the texts operate discursively within a neoliberal policy environment to produce both girlhood as a site of unmanaged risk and girls as rational, autonomous subjects. In considering the effects of these texts and texts like them on educational policy, I suggest that these texts work within a neoliberal policy climate to limit common sense understanding of gender.
Mean girl , Femininity , Mean Girl Phenomenon , Construct gender , Teacher resource material