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Making of a Teenage Service ClassPoverty and Mobility in an American City$
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Ranita Ray

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292055

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292055.001.0001

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Making of a Teenage Service Class

Ranita Ray

University of California Press

This chapter highlights how marginalized youth attempt to mobilize resources they acquire from school, at work, and through nonprofits and churches in order to facilitate their transition from high school to college. It shows how these institutions generate resources, but they also impede young people’s opportunities for upward mobility. Having to balance the demands of school and work regularly overburden youth, making it difficult for them to succeed in school. Moreover, while organizations and institutions are occupied with educating marginalized youth, they also—and sometimes more importantly—discipline and police them. While the school and community construct the policing of youth as necessary to prepare them for a bright future, this chapter shows how and why the policing agenda often pose obstacles to their higher educational opportunities. In sum, while available resources collectively facilitate their college goals in some ways, such as admission and homework completion, they fall short of preparing them for the myriad daily struggles involved in succeeding in institutions of higher education. Meanwhile, open access to certain institutions of higher education—combined with the organization of labor in the service industry—allows youth to hold on to their aspirations of a college degree and white-collar jobs.

Keywords:   discipline, policing, educational opportunities, high school to college transition, higher education, upward mobility, service industry

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