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Race, Class, and Gender in America: Narratives of Opportunity among Low-Income African American Youths

Carla O'Connor
Sociology of Education
Vol. 72, No. 3 (Jul., 1999), pp. 137-157
DOI: 10.2307/2673226
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2673226
Page Count: 21
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Race, Class, and Gender in America: Narratives of Opportunity among Low-Income African American Youths
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Abstract

The research literature has explored the relationship between marginalized students' perceptions of social opportunity and mobility and their academic orientation. However, little attention has been paid to the extent to which these students simultaneously represent multiple social identities and how they may differentially assess life chances in light of their different social locations. This article examines how low-income African American high school students situate race, class, and gender in the process of status attainment. In revealing the substantive variation with which these students account (or not) for social structure in the mobility process, the author calls into question the claim that perceptions of opportunity are related to academic engagement in predictable ways. She also suggests that personal experiences and knowledge of others' experiences are the bases for the development of multiple visions of opportunity.

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