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Producing SuccessThe Culture of Personal Advancement in an American High School$
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Peter Demerath

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226142395

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226142425.001.0001

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Alienation, Marginalization, and Incivility

Alienation, Marginalization, and Incivility

(p.152) Chapter Seven Alienation, Marginalization, and Incivility
Producing Success

Peter Demerath

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on the condition of the students who seemed to suffer within the Burnham school climate, which was oriented so strongly around individual competition—average- and low-achieving students, as well as many African American students. The chapter explains how many under-achieving students seemed to connect their academic disengagement to the competitive emphases of the school, feeling “defeated” or “alienated” from the school and ultimately deciding not to “play the game.” The rising rates of student harassment and vandalism in the school is attributed to the frustration of much average and below average students who had experiences with the school's rigid hierarchical ranking system. The chapter also tries to show how African American students were marginalized within the school. They were consistently underrepresented in higher-level classes during the study and did not seem to adopt many of the same instrumental strategies oriented toward academic success as their white peers.

Keywords:   African American students, academic disengagement, student harassment, vandalism, academic success, defeated, alienated

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