Popularity versus respect: School structure, peer groups and Latino academic achievement

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This article begins with a discussion of recent critiques of Fordham and Ogbu's argument on the 'burden of acting white'. These critiques point to the stereotypical and homogeneous characterization of the black peer group by Fordham and Ogbu, as well as their inattention to the ways in which schools relegate into the lower tracks those students who behave too ethnically and who do not demonstrate proficiency with dominant cultural attributes. The second half of the article presents data showing that academic achievement is related to peer-group membership and that schools are largely responsible for which peer group students join. Based on an ethnographic study at a predominantly Latino urban high school, I argue that Latino high achievers do not necessarily experience the 'burden of acting white' as Fordham and Ogbu suggest. This was due to the institutional practices at Hernandez High School, which ensured that high achievers and low achievers occupied different academic and social spaces, resulting in little interaction between the groups, and to the very different culture that prescribed the ways in which members of each group could achieve status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-642
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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