Mad Love: Life and Change in an American Adolescent Residential Treatment Center

Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2010

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation is about processes of socialization in a residential treatment center for adolescents in the American Midwest. I argue that this socialization occurs through a particular institutional cultural knowledge based on institutional practice and local formulations of emotionality. The learning and practice of new cultural knowledge, the power dynamics, and the transformation of subjective states occurred through various kinds of communicative events and ways of speaking, particularly through “sharing,” (through talk, body language, and intimate physical engagements) and emotional engagements (e.g., trust) within interpersonal relationships. I argue that this cultural knowledge is situated within relationships of power primarily based on racial identity, American racial inequality, and habitual practices of White privilege. I also argue that a transformation of internal affective lives of residents (and to some extent staff members) is the practical work of residential treatment.

This dissertation provides an account of how people navigate multiple and often contradicting processes of socialization within institutional settings. I argue that the strategies people develop to grapple with competing ideologies in these contexts both reflect and make intelligible broader social dynamics that inform institutional logics and also shape people’s experiences in profound ways. In other words, looking at processes of socialization in institutions can inform our understanding of how ideologies are put into everyday practice and how this practice shapes how people come to experience themselves in new ways.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Rebecca J. Lester

Committee Members

John Baugh, Barbara Baumgartner, John Bowen, Garrett Duncan, Carolyn Sargent, Bradley Stoner


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K79884XK

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