ginwright - Classed Out: The Challenges of Social Class in...

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SOCIAL PROBLEMS, Vol. 49, No. 4, pages 544–562. ISSN: 0037-7791; online ISSN: 1533-8533 © 2002 by Society for the Study of Social Problems, Inc. All rights reserved. Send requests for permission to reprint to: Rights and Permissions, University of California Press, Journals Division, 2000 Center St., Ste. 303, Berkeley, CA 94704-1223. Classed Out: The Challenges of Social Class in Black Community Change Shawn A. Ginwright, Santa Clara University The growth in the black middle class since the Civil Rights movement has spawned an interest in the rela- tionships between the black middle class and the black poor. Scholars are interested in understanding how social and cultural capital among the black middle class both ameliorate and/or sustain the conditions of the black working poor. While this literature provides us with an understanding about the role of social and cultural cap- ital in the lives of poor and middle class blacks, it says little about how ideology functions in intra-racial, multi- class coalitions. Through materialist and culturalist frames of community problems confronting the black working poor, I argue that culturalist frames of community problems fail to address black working class issues. Drawing on a case study of a community’s effort to use Afrocentric ideology to improve an urban school, I demonstrate how black middle class community members misdiagnosed the problem at the school through culturalist framing. Findings indicate that social class plays a signiŽcant role in how problems are deŽned, interpreted and addressed. In 1957, E. Franklin Frazier argued that the black middle class in America suffered from an identity crisis. He believed that while new middle class blacks enjoyed the beneŽts of higher income, education and social status, they suffered from a loss of cultural identity brought on by assimilation into the American mainstream (Frazier 1957). Since that time, there has been a dramatic growth in the black middle class in the United States. The growth in income levels, educational attainment and middle class lifestyles spawned a burgeoning interest among researchers about the experience of the new black middle class (Landry 1987; Pattillo- McCoy 1999). Recently, scholars have focused their attention on understanding the relationship between the black working poor and the black middle class (Pattillo-McCoy 1999; Wilson 1996a). Scholars are interested in understanding how social and cultural capital among the black middle class both ameliorate and/or sustain the conditions of the black working poor (Wilson 1996a). The prevailing argument here is that the black middle class escape the conŽnes of urban communities, and in their exodus, take with them valuable social and cul- tural resources. Along with urban problems such as unemployment, the removal of black role models and the displacement of middle class values all contribute to urban decay (Anderson 1999; Wilson 1996a, 1996b). While this research is useful in our understanding of the role of social and cultural capital
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This note was uploaded on 09/14/2009 for the course SOC 302 taught by Professor Langenkamp during the Fall '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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ginwright - Classed Out: The Challenges of Social Class in...

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