22 Pages

Exceptions to the Rule

Upwardly Mobile White and Mexican American High School Girls
WithJulie Bettie

While most high school students will obtain future social class positions consistent with their class backgrounds, a handful of students are exceptions to this rule, being either upwardly mobile working-class students (on the college preparatory track) or downwardly mobile middle-class students (on the vocational track). This chapter, based on ethnographic research among white and Mexican American high school girls in California’s Central Valley, foregrounds the experience of upwardly mobile working-class students showing how race/ethnicity, class, and gender intersect in the lives of these young women, shaping their educational mobility. Using a comparative approach, it examines the similarities and differences between white and Mexican American working-class girls’ experiences of mobility. The chapter describes the various contingencies leading to the girls’ mobility, and explores their subjective experience of mobility, in both cases noting the girls’ different experiences according to their race/ethnicity.