Recontextualising ‘Big Spender’

socialising the selling of female sexuality in a middle school drama programme


  • Laurie Schick Oklahoma State University



language socialisation, sexualisation of girls, complex systems models, intertextuality, middle school


The main focus of this paper is to show how the rehearsal of ‘Big Spender’ in an American middle school drama programme is embedded in larger social contexts, and thereby contributes to what the American Psychological Association identifies as the ‘sexualization of girls’ in today’s world. More specifically, I use complex and ecosystems models in order to illuminate the multilayered way in which the recontextualised use of macro-level cultural texts like ‘Big Spender’ can contribute to the sexualisation of girls in meso-level, formal education-based communities of practice as well as in micro-level, face-to-face social interactions. Data presented here were collected and analysed by combining (a) ethnographically-based language socialisation field research conducted at one middle school and (b) discourse and multimodal examinations of ‘Big Spender’-related texts. Based on this multilayered analysis I show how schools and teachers can and do contribute to the language socialisation of sexual objectification and subordination of schoolgirls.

Author Biography

Laurie Schick, Oklahoma State University

Laurie Schick is an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics/TESL in the Department of English at Oklahoma State University. She earned her doctorate in Applied Linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her specialisation is language socialisation, with a focus on adolescents. She has been a workshop leader in a theatre and creative writing project for a juvenile offender programme sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department. Recent publications include ‘Some people: from referential vagueness to social-moral socialization in middle school dance classes’ (Pragmatics and Society, forthcoming), ‘“You’re laughing at him”: bullying as social practice in middle school’ (in Morality in Practice: Exploring Childhood, Parenthood and Schooling in Everyday Life, edited by Cromdal and Tholander, 2013) and ‘Want and the language socialization of multiple competencies in middle school dance classes’ (Journal of Pragmatics, 2010).


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How to Cite

Schick, L. (2014). Recontextualising ‘Big Spender’: socialising the selling of female sexuality in a middle school drama programme. Gender and Language, 8(1), 43–70.