Concepts And Implications In Jay Macleod's Ain't No Makin' It

2641 words - 11 pages

Social reproduction is examined closely by Jay Macleod in his book "Ain't No Makin' It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low-Income Neighborhood." His study examines two groups of working class teenage boys residing in Clarendon Heights, a housing project in upstate New York. The Hallway Hangers, a predominately white peer group, and the Brothers, an all African American peer group with the exception of one white member. Through the use of multiple social theories, MacLeod explains social reproduction by examining the lives of these groups as they experience it, being members of the working class in society. These social theories are very important in understanding the ways in which social classes are reproduced.

The achievement ideology is an important concept in understanding the ways that the Hallway Hangers and Brothers experience social reproduction. The achievement ideology is the view that "success is based on merit, and economic inequality is due to differences in ambition and ability. Individuals do not inherit their social status; they attain it on their own" (3). The view is that if one works hard, one can easily attain social advancement. This is not the case, which some of the following theories can help explain when the Hallway Hangers and Brothers are more closely examined.

The theories of Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Pierre Bourdieu, Basil Bernstein and Shirley Brice Heath represent the deterministic end of the social reproduction perspective. These theories mainly involve school, the ideas of cultural capital, habitus, and linguistic cultural capital and can help explain more in depth how the reproduction of classes continue through generations, and how this reproduction is accepted.

The main function of the educational system's main goals is to perpetuate class status. Bowles and Gintis emphasize the "similarity between the social relations of production and personal interaction in the schools" (12), concurring that schools in mainly working class areas emphasize rules and control while suburban schools desire more student participation and less supervision. Bowles and Gintis also focus on the different expectations of the school's faculty. Working class parents expect faculty to teach rules and submission to authority, which are considered an important value for success in the workplace, while middle class parents expect different values to be taught. These expectations, which Bowles and Gintis emphasize as their "correspondence principle", reinforce social reproduction, and "Even within the same school, argue Bowles and Gintis, educational tracks, which cater to different classes of students, emphasize different values" (13). The school system uses many hidden devices in order to reassure that there remains a separation between classes, educational tracks being one of them. It is argued that students of the working class are doomed to fail before they even get started, which Pierre Bourdieu's...

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