Tolerance Rules: Identity, Resistance, and Negotiation in an Inner City Recreation/Drop-In Center Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • For many youth, the recreation/drop-in center is a nonthreatening, relatively unstructured place to play sports and hang out in an otherwise high-risk urban area. Although numerous studies have shown a positive relationship between these recreation programs and risk reduction for youth, little work has addressed the creative ways that youth negotiate these surroundings. Drawing on cultural studies and interactionist approaches to youth that focus on the many levels of everyday experience and relations, this article reports findings from an ethnographic study of a center in a low-income area in urban southern Ontario. The research shows how youth in this drop-in center context maintained an informal culture of nonviolence by creating a set of “tolerance” rules that allowed diverse groups to coexist in a limited social space. Issues surrounding resistance were also evident in this study. On one hand, youth living in a marginalized area were resistant to the dominant negative influences that exist outside the center. On the other hand, by creating their own informal culture within the center, the youth took power in an organization otherwise dominated (administratively) by adults. These findings inform theory surrounding the lived experiences of youth while addressing issues of resistance that are central to mainstream work on youth culture.

publication date

  • February 2001