ERIC Number: ED425214
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Reference Count: N/A
From Hierarchy to Pluralism in American High Schools: Changing Patterns in Status Distinctions and Racial Segregation.
Comas, Jordi, R.; Milner, Murray, Jr.
Previous research on high school status consistently found a status structure characterized by extensive ranking and group salience. This case study, using observations and interviews, documents the emergence of a new pattern: status pluralism. The study was conducted in a medium-sized urban high school of about 1,000 students, who were nearly equally black and white. Information from this school was supplemented with information about the status structures of 191 other high schools. The two types of status pluralism, racial status pluralism and lifestyle pluralism, have varying levels of ranking and salience. Racial pluralism is the absence of ranking due to varying levels of racially based group identity. Lifestyle pluralism is an absence of ranking and an emphasis on salience resulting in a multiplicity of groups with clearly demarcated boundaries. Racial and lifestyle pluralism emerge in the differential use of space, the creation of social categories based on status identity, and the telescoping of status groups when viewed by actors across racially structured social space. The existence of "deviant" groups within the two types of pluralism cuts across rigid boundaries between the two. This analysis addresses the effects of pluralism on minimizing racial conflict and social competition. Status pluralism tends to minimize conflict because a system that is composed of segregated but roughly equal segments means that actors of different races are not, for the most part, in competition for status through association or limited access to valued resources. But the peace is a fragile one. The irony is that greater levels of racial integration may--at least in the short run--increase cross-race competition and conflict and decrease pluralism. (Contains 17 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A