Race and Social Problems

, Volume 4, Issue 3–4, pp 171–192

Fitting In: Segregation, Social Class, and the Experiences of Black Students at Selective Colleges and Universities

Article

Abstract

We analyzed qualitative data gathered at a selective urban university with a large black student body. We found that black students from integrated backgrounds welcomed the chance to establish friendships with same-race peers even though they were at ease in white settings, whereas students from segregated backgrounds saw same-race peers as a source of comfort and refuge from a white world often perceived as hostile. These contrasting perceptions set up both groups for shock upon matriculation. Students from an integrated background were better prepared academically and socially, but were unfamiliar with urban black culture and uncomfortable interacting with students of lower class standing. Students from a segregated background were surprised to find they had little in common with more affluent students from integrated backgrounds. Although both groups were attracted to campus for the same reason—to interact with a critical mass of same-race peers—their contrasting expectations produced a letdown as the realities of intraracial diversity set in.

Keywords

Race Class Education Segregation College Campus 

References

  1. Charles, C. Z. (2003). The dynamics of racial residential segregation. Annual Review of Sociology, 29, 167–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Charles, C. Z., Dinwiddie, G., & Massey, D. S. (2004). The continuing consequences of segregation. Social Science Quarterly, 85, 1353–1374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Charles, C. Z., Fischer, M. J., Mooney, M. A., & Massey, D. S. (2009). Taming the river: Negotiating the Academic, Financial, and Social Currents in America’s Selective Colleges and Universities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cutler, D. M., & Glaeser, E. L. (1997). Are ghettos good or bad? The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112, 827–872.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  6. Goffman, I. (1967). Interaction ritual: Essays on face-to-face behavior. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  7. Goffman, I. (1969). Strategic interaction. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  8. Jones, E. E. (1990). Interpersonal perception. New York: WH Freeman and Co.Google Scholar
  9. Kozol, J. (2005). The shame of the nation: The restoration of apartheid schooling in America. New York: Crown Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Massey, D. S. (2004). Segregation and stratification: A biosocial perspective. The DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 1, 1–19.Google Scholar
  11. Massey, D. S., Charles, C. Z., Lundy, G. F., & Fischer, M. J. (2003). The source of the river: The social origins of freshmen at America’s selective colleges and universities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Massey, D. S., & Denton, N. A. (1993). American apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Massey, D. S., & Fischer, M. J. (2006). The effect of childhood segregation on minority academic performance at selective colleges. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 29(1), 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Orfield, G., & Eaton, S. E. (1996). Dismantling desegregation: The quiet reversal of brown V. Board of Education. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  15. Sampson, R. J., Morenoff, J. D., & Gannon-Rowley, T. (2002). Assessing neighborhood effects: Social processes and new directions in research. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 443–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Smith, S., & Moore, M. (2000). Intraracial diversity and relations among African Americans: Closeness among black students at a Predominantly White University. American Journal of Sociology, 106, 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Smith, S., & Moore, M. (2002). Expectations of campus racial climate and social adjustment among African American College students. In W. R. Allen, M. B. Spencer, & C. O’Connor (Eds.), African American education: race, community, inequality and achievement (pp. 93–119). New York: Elsevier Science.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Wilkes, R., & Iceland, J. (2004). Hypersegregation in the twenty-first century: An update and analysis. Demography, 41(1), 23–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Williams, D. R., & Collins, C. (2001). Racial residential segregation: A fundamental cause of racial disparities in health. Public Health Reports, 116, 404–416.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Population ResearchPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

Personalised recommendations