Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities

Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities: Social Categories, Social Identities, and Educational Participation

Andrew J. Fuligni Editor
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities
    Book Description:

    Since the end of legal segregation in schools, most research on educational inequality has focused on economic and other structural obstacles to the academic achievement of disadvantaged groups. But in Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities, a distinguished group of psychologists and social scientists argue that stereotypes about the academic potential of some minority groups remain a significant barrier to their achievement. This groundbreaking volume examines how low institutional and cultural expectations of minorities hinder their academic success, how these stereotypes are perpetuated, and the ways that minority students attempt to empower themselves by redefining their identities. The contributors to Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities explore issues of ethnic identity and educational inequality from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives, drawing on historical analyses, social-psychological experiments, interviews, and observation. Meagan Patterson and Rebecca Bigler show that when teachers label or segregate students according to social categories (even in subtle ways), students are more likely to rank and stereotype one another, so educators must pay attention to the implicit or unintentional ways that they emphasize group differences. Many of the contributors contest John Ogbu’s theory that African Americans have developed an “oppositional culture” that devalues academic effort as a form of “acting white.” Daphna Oyserman and Daniel Brickman, in their study of black and Latino youth, find evidence that strong identification with their ethnic group is actually associated with higher academic motivation among minority youth. Yet, as Julie Garcia and Jennifer Crocker find in a study of African-American female college students, the desire to disprove negative stereotypes about race and gender can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and excessive, self-defeating levels of effort, which impede learning and academic success. The authors call for educational institutions to diffuse these threats to minority students’ identities by emphasizing that intelligence is a malleable rather than a fixed trait. Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities reveals the many hidden ways that educational opportunities are denied to some social groups. At the same time, this probing and wide-ranging anthology provides a fresh perspective on the creative ways that these groups challenge stereotypes and attempt to participate fully in the educational system.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-233-6
    Subjects: Education, Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Andrew J. Fuligni

    Educational achievement and opportunity often differ according to the social categories with which societies divide up their world, such as ethnicity, race, gender, or caste (Buchmann and Hannum 2001; Shavit and Blossfeld 1993). Within the United States, in-equalities in attainment and opportunity continue to be an entrenched feature of the educational landscape in the twenty-first century. Although the high school completion rate of African American youths has improved over the last thirty years, a significant gap in the graduation rates of African American and white students has remained for the past ten to fifteen years (Laird et al. 2006). The...


    • Chapter 1 Past as Present, Present as Past: Historicizing Black Education and Interrogating “Integration”
      (pp. 15-41)
      Anne Galletta and William E. Cross Jr.

      One of the objectives of the works included in this volume is to interrogate the so-called achievement gap between mainstream white and Asian American students as compared to minority students in general and black students in particular. The current chapter focuses on the latter, although our analysis has implications for the general discourse on the achievement gap. The intractability of the problem within the black community moved the late and renowned anthropologist, John Ogbu, to search beyond racism in his effort to pin-point the origins of the gap, and instead to probe the dynamics of black culture and traditions (Ogbu...

    • Chapter 2 Essentialism and Cultural Narratives: A Social-Marginality Perspective
      (pp. 42-65)
      Ramaswami Mahalingam

      Using an interdisciplinary perspective, I propose a life-span developmental framework to study social marginality. This framework will help further our understanding of the unique developmental changes in the lives of children and youths from marginalized communities. Social marginalization is experienced at multiple levels, often because of the minority status of a group or the low social status of a majority group. For instance, in India and South Africa, the dominant groups (Brahmins and whites) are numeric minorities, but they have a disproportionate stake in power, which is maintained through various institutional mechanisms (for example, the institutionalization of slavery in the...

    • Chapter 3 Relations Among Social Identities, Intergroup Attitudes, and Schooling: Perspectives from Intergroup Theory and Research
      (pp. 66-88)
      Meagan M. Patterson and Rebecca S. Bigler

      One of the best-known manipulations of social identity and intergroup attitudes within the classroom is the blue-eye/brown-eye “experiment” performed by Jane Elliot, a third-grade teacher in Riceville, Iowa, in 1967. Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Elliot felt compelled to teach her students about racial prejudice. She devised an exercise that would allow children to experience stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination on the basis of their membership in a biologically based social group. On the first day of her exercise, Elliot informed her students that brown-eyed children were smarter, cleaner, and better behaved than blue-eyed children. As a result...


    • Chapter 4 Racial-Ethnic Identity: Content and Consequences for African American, Latino, and Latina Youths
      (pp. 91-114)
      Daphna Oyserman, Daniel Brickman and Marjorie Rhodes

      A large number of sociologists and psychologists have argued that racial-ethnic identity is a central part of self-concept for racial-ethnic minority adolescents. While these scholars have proposed that positive racial-ethnic identity should be related to general positive self-regard as well as specific positive outcomes, such as academic attainment (for example, Akbar 1991; Asante 1987; Asante 1988, Cross 1991; Gibson and Ogbu 1991; McAdoo 1988; Parham 1989; Phinney 1996; Porter and Washington 1989). Research to date more consistently provides empirical evidence of a link between racial-ethnic identity and self-esteem than evidence of a link between racial-ethnic identity and academic outcomes. In...

    • Chapter 5 Social Identity, Stereotype Threat, and Self-Theories
      (pp. 115-135)
      Catherine Good, Carol S. Dweck and Joshua Aronson

      Each of us possesses multiple social identities. For example, our sex, age, race, social class, religion, political beliefs, and professions are all potential social identities. In certain contexts in which we find ourselves, that social identity may be devalued. For example, Democrats at the Republican National Convention, gays and lesbians at a custody hearing, a lone woman at a corporate board of directors meeting, black people in an all-white, southern neighborhood, or an Arab flight attendant with an American or European airline—all are at risk of having a component of their social identities devalued in the respective contexts. In...

    • Chapter 6 Ethnicity, Ethnic Identity, and School Valuing Among Children from Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Families
      (pp. 136-159)
      Jason S. Lawrence, Meredith Bachman and Diane N. Ruble

      Ethnic-group differences in school achievement in the United States are distressing. At all school levels, African American and Latino students have lower grades, lower graduation rates, higher dropout rates, and lower standardized achievement test scores than do white and Asian students (see Burton and Jones 1982; Jencks and Phillips 1998; Kao and Thompson 2003; Sue and Okazaki 1990; Steele 1997). This achievement gap is particularly worrisome because it portends a sustained economic gap between low-achieving and high-achieving ethnic groups. That is, compared to whites and Asians, blacks and Latinos will be less likely to have stable well-paying jobs and own...

    • Chapter 7 Women of Color in College: Effects of Identity and Context on Contingent Self-Worth
      (pp. 160-180)
      Julie A. Garcia and Jennifer Crocker

      The performance of women and minorities in secondary school has received considerable attention from social scientists, policymakers, and educators. Educational achievement predicts many life outcomes, including lifetime earnings and health. Consequently, social scientists, educators, and researchers want to understand factors that promote or prevent school achievement, particularly for minority students. At the postsecondary level, students of color graduate from college at lower rates than white students. For example, 66.4 percent of whites, 54.9 percent of blacks, and 60.2 percent of Latinos who enrolled in college in the 1995–1996 academic year had either completed their education or were still enrolled...


    • Chapter 8 The Meaning of “Blackness”: How Black Students Differentially Align Race and Achievement Across Time and Space
      (pp. 183-208)
      Carla O’Connor, Sonia DeLuca Fernández and Brian Girard

      This chapter explores the ways African American students differentially align race and achievement in moving from a predominantly white high school to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In contrast to popular and academic discourse, which suggest that black students enter school with racialized conceptions of achievement performance and the concomitant notion that being black is in conflict with doing well academically, we show how the racial character and organization of educational institutions play a role in the process whereby students come to construct blackness and whiteness in relation to schooling. We begin by summarizing the birthplace and logic of...

    • Chapter 9 The Role of Peers, Families, and Ethnic-Identity Enactments in Educational Persistence and Achievement of Latino and Latina Youths
      (pp. 209-238)
      Elizabeth Birr Moje and Magdalena Martinez

      In this chapter we examine the intersection of identity and educational achievement among Latina and Latino adolescent students who live in a large, urban community. In a time when achievement and accountability are the watchwords of educational practice and policy, we seek to understand the role that various academic and social, interpersonal and institutional, structures play in educational achievement as they foster and demand different understandings and enactments of identity among Latino students. We focus on Latino and Latina youths because they represent a growing ethnic group in U.S. society (Gibson, Gándara, and Koyama 2004a), even as they continue to...

    • Chapter 10 Family Identity and the Educational Persistence of Students with Latin American and Asian Backgrounds
      (pp. 239-264)
      Andrew J. Fuligni, Gwendelyn J. Rivera and April Leininger

      Several studies highlight the generally positive role played by minority children’s ethnic identification in dealing with the challenges that they face to their educational progress (in this volume, see Oyserman, Brickman, and Rhodes, chapter 4, and Lawrence, Bachman, and Ruble, chapter 6). Converging evidence suggests that contrary to the prior assumptions of many observers, adolescents with a positive attachment to and identification with their ethnic background demonstrate high levels of academic motivation, educational engagement, and, at times, improved academic progress. In addition to the results presented in chapter 4 of this volume, in earlier work, Daphna Oyserman, Kathy Harrison, and...

  8. Index
    (pp. 265-280)