chapter  4
26 Pages

Dynamics of Urban Neighborhood Reciprocity: Latino Peer Ties, Violence, and the Navigation of School Failure and Success


Youth who grow up in urban neighborhoods experience higher odds of high school non-completion (Harding 2003; Wodtke, Harding, and Elwert 2011). Whereas popular perception is that high rates of school failure refl ect an “anti-school” orientation among urban youth, studies show urban youth vary widely in their cultural orientation towards education (Carter 2005; Flores-Gonzalez 2002; Harris 2011; Warikoo 2011). If an oppositional outlook does not explain why urban neighborhoods are so detrimental for school completion, then what does? I spent a year in two urban neighborhoods in Los Angeles meeting with 42 young Latino men to examine how the urban neighborhood infl uences educational outcomes. Ethnographic observations of these neighborhoods and multiple interviews with each of these young men-high school completers and non-completers alike-point to exposure to urban violence as a signifi cant factor contributing to school failure among young urban men.