Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 847–870 | Cite as

Fictive kinship as it mediates learning, resiliency, perseverance, and social learning of inner-city high school students of color in a college physics class

  • Konstantinos Alexakos
  • Jayson K. Jones
  • Victor H. Rodriguez


In this hermeneutic study we explore how fictive kinship (kin-like close personal friendship) amongst high school students of color mediated their resiliency, perseverance, and success in a college physics class. These freely chosen, processual friendships were based on emotional and material support, motivation, and caring for each other, as well as trust, common interests, and goals. Such close bonds contributed in creating a safe and supportive emotional space and allowed for friendly, cooperative competition within the physics classroom. Friends became the role models, source of support, and motivation for the fictive kinship group as well as for each other, as the group became the role model, source of support, and motivation for the individuals in it. Because of their friendships with one another, physics talk was extended and made part of their personal interactions outside the classroom. These social relationships and safe spaces helped the students cope and persevere despite their initial conflicting expectations of their success in physics. Our research thus expands on the concept of social learning by exploring student friendships and how they frame and mediate such a process.


Fictive kinship Friendship Resiliency Perseverance Coping Student relationships Role models Emotions Science learning Physics Social learning 



The authors would like to thank Stacy Olitsky, Christina Siry, Alejandro J. Gallard, and Katerina Plakitsi for their help in preparing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Konstantinos Alexakos
    • 1
  • Jayson K. Jones
    • 1
  • Victor H. Rodriguez
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Education, Brooklyn CollegeCUNYBrooklynUSA

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