chapter  12
The role of ethnicity, class, and gender in social capital formation: a case study of supportive peer networks among Somali working- class immigrant adolescents
ByMoosung Lee
Pages 14

As most sociologists and social-psychologists argue, one of the most important sources for adolescents’ social relationships is their peers because, unlike adults and children, adolescents tend to be more easily and greatly infl uenced by their peer group (Cotterell 2007). In this sense, peer groups are very infl uential social actors who signifi cantly condition social capital generation for adolescents-either negatively or positively (Cotterell 2007). This is particularly true for working-class adolescents. Working-class adolescents often tend to face different school values (e.g. middle-class-oriented school culture), which could be incompatible with their class values, resulting in leading to their different academic performance patterns. That is, social class has a considerable impact on the differential patterns of academic success. This view has been consistently supported by sociologists, based on the neo-Marxist concept of class-i.e. schools are viewed as institutions for class reproduction. As an example, Althusser (1971: 136-138) regards schools as one of the most important “ideological state apparatuses (e.g., family, churches, mass media, and legal systems)” where predominant ideology is legitimately reproduced by modern states. Within this context, Willis (1977) identifi es certain cultural mechanisms whereby working-class students consciously or unconsciously reject schoolwork by forming a counterculture of predominant ideology that eventually leads them to be locked into lower socio-economic status. Following Willis’s perspective, researchers equipped with an anthropologic lens transfer this cultural mechanism to racial-ethnic minority students. For example, although still controversial, the fi ndings of Fordham and Ogbu (1986) suggest that peer pressure among Blacks often negatively functions as accelerating anti-school culture in the U.S. public schooling context. Especially as far as negative juvenile delinquency is concerned, the negative infl uence of peer groups in general and peer networks in particular is evident (see Cotterell 2007).