Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 29–41 | Cite as

Group differentiation in a metropolitan high school: The influence of race, class, gender and culture

  • M. Gottdiener
  • Donna Malone


A three month field study of informal student interaction within a lunch court was conducted in a city high school in Southern California. Attention was focused on the easily observed factors of student appearance, behavior and the use of space. Considerable group diversity differentiated the students. The principal cleavage was by race and ethnicity with whites, Blacks, and Chicanos segregating themselves. Within each group further subgroups were observed to cluster separately. Whites were the most differentiated with five subgroups, Blacks had two, and Chicanos had three. Whites and Chicanos differentiated themselves principally on the basis of cultural differences, while Blacks made distinctions amongst themselves on the basis of class. Each of the main groups, however, had their own anti-mainstream counter-culture. The implications of group diversity and the differential role of culture and class in subgroup interaction are also considered.


High School Social Psychology Field Study Cultural Difference Social Issue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Becker, H. et al. 1961 Boys in White. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Berger, B. 1963 “On the Youthfulness of Youth Cultures.” Social Research 30: 319–42.Google Scholar
  3. Bernard, J. 1961 “Teen Age Culture: An Overview.” Annals of the American Association of Political and Social Science 338: 1–12.Google Scholar
  4. Birnbach, L. 1980 The Official Preppy Handbook. N.Y.: Workman Press.Google Scholar
  5. Brake, M. 1974 “The Skinheads: An English Working Class Culture.” Youth and Society 6 (Dec.): 179–200.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, A. 1955 Delinquent Boys. Glencoe, IL.: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  7. Coleman, J. 1961 The Adolescent Society. N.Y.: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  8. Crowe, D. 1981 Fast Times at Ridgemont High. N.Y.: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  9. Fine, G. and S. Kleinman 1979 “Rethinking Subculture: An Interactionist Analysis.” American Journal of Sociology 85: 1–15.Google Scholar
  10. Gottdiener, M. Forthcoming “Hegemony and Mass Culture: A Semiotic Approach.” American Journal of Sociology.Google Scholar
  11. Haber, Gilda 1982 “Spatial Relations Between Dominants and Marginals.” Social Psychology Quarterly 45: 219–228.Google Scholar
  12. Hebdige, R. 1979 Subculture: The Meaning of Style. N.Y.: Methuen.Google Scholar
  13. Irwin, J. 1977 Scenes. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Larkin, S. 1979 Suburban Youth in Cultural Crisis. N.Y.: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Matza, D. 1961 “Subterranean Traditions of Youth.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 338: 102–118Google Scholar
  16. Mingham, G. and G. Pearson, eds. 1976 Working Class Youth Culture. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  17. Patridge, W. 1973 The Hippie Ghetto: The Natural History of a Subculture. N.Y.: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  18. Peterson, R. 1979 “Revitalizing the Culture Concept.” Annual Review of Sociology, 5: 137–166.Google Scholar
  19. Plascencia, L. 1983 “Low Riding in the Southwest: Cultural Symbols in the Mexican Community.” Pp. 141–175 in G. Keller, et. al., ed., History, Culture and Society: Chicano Studies in the 1980's Ypsilanti. Michigan: Bilingual Press.Google Scholar
  20. Remmers, H. and D. Radler 1957 The American Teenager. Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
  21. Thrasher, F. 1927 [1963] The Gang. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Working Papers in Cultural Studies 1975 Resistance Through Rituals. Birmingham: University of Birmingham (Summer).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Gottdiener
    • 1
  • Donna Malone
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaRiverside

Personalised recommendations