HomeArticlesIs Race or Student Motivation the Highest Correlate to Student Failure?


Is Race or Student Motivation the Highest Correlate to Student Failure? — 2 Comments

  1. Gordon’s article is well-done and informative, as always.
    The one sociological concept that comes to mind is James Coleman’s by now familiar idea of SOCIAL CAPITAL:

    We live in a highly stratified society, in which success and privilege on the one hand, and poverty and failure on the other, are transmitted from one generation to the next, ad infinitum. For example, blacks as a group have not progressed relative to whites over many generations. We call this the “reproduction of inequality.”
    Gordon is absolutely right that the core of this phenomenon – the reproduction of inequality – is rooted in the sphere of EDUCATION.
    The reason for this is the absence of social capital in the underclass. There is simply not a CULTURE, a value system, a system of HABITS that emphasize the value of education.

    The absence of social (and cultural) capital in the underclass is a less tangible but equally important form of poverty. The presence of it is evident in such communities as Jews and Asian-Americans, groups which value education even for its own sake. The transmission of this “capital” occurs from generation to generation in some communities, even those that are not necessarily terribly wealthy in a purely financial sense. Elsewhere, success among the young remains elusive because parents, adults, the community at large lacks social capital. This form of poverty is by no means limited to African-Americans. It also characterizes millions of lower-class whites, both rural and urban.

  2. Thanks Tom, Just to clarify a bit, when you says “blacks as a group” or Jews and Asian Americans as groups, you are referring to a norm for a group that ends up producing stereotypes of groups. Nevertheless there are exceptions to these norms, and some blacks are highly successful, while some Jews live in poverty. The reasons for this are not their Blackness or Jewishness, but individual social capital depending on the homes and communities they were raised in.

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