Symbolic Dimensions and Primary Meanings

in Language of the Gun

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780226316086
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226316079 | DOI:
Symbolic Dimensions and Primary Meanings

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This chapter explores the symbolic dimensions of guns among the the Catalina youths—at Catalina Mountain School in Tucson, Arizona. The chapter sets forth nineteen primary meanings associated with guns and youths' gun carrying. The primary meanings are the spontaneous, unfiltered first reactions, the immediate thought that comes to mind when a youth sees a gun. These primary meanings were looked for through a probing of the thirty Catalina youths, which involved experimenting with their immediate reactions, listening carefully to their words, watching their expressions. In order to get as close as possible, three pictures of guns were used—two semiautomatics and a classic revolver—and free-association prompts were offered. “What are you thinking?” “What experiences do these guns remind you of?” “What do these guns make you think of?” The very first response, the immediate utterance, is what constitutes the primary association. And the interviews reveal a wide range of primary meanings.

Keywords: primary meaning; Catalina youths; interviews; gun carrying; free-association prompts; primary association

Chapter.  12254 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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