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Governing the exit of children through their margins?


Using interviews and observations carried out by activity leaders working with children aged from 9 to 13 years old, we have set out to analyse two figures commonly used to govern the exit from childhood : those of the gang-leader and the “good-muslim-girl”. Originally used to (re)assign an identity to the descendants of migrants in poor urban areas, these figures presently serve to reinforce a hetero-sexist order which codifies “correct masculinity and femininity” for different age-groups. The boorishness of the gang-leaders helps to normalise gender-identifications of boys in groups who see themselves as “autochthonous”, whereas the discretion of the “good-muslim-girls “emancipated” via schooling is opposed to the vulgarity of “lolitas” of popular origin and traces the limits of a just bodily exposure for girls coming out of childhood. We will conclude the article with a reflection on the nature of the governance of childhood practiced via these stereo-typical figures. Rather than referring to a uniform model, this governance is based on the elaboration of counter-types which define the limits and the frontiers which should not be transgressed.

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