The Social Contexts of High Schools

  • Robert CrosnoeEmail author
  • Lilla Pivnick
  • Aprile D. Benner
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


In addition to their roles as educational institutions structuring human capital development during a critical period of socioeconomic attainment, high schools organize the peer contexts in which young people come of age during a critical period of development. Consequently, understanding the peer processes that characterize the social contexts of schools sheds light on how schools are operating as formal institutions of teaching and learning. This chapter provides an overview of research from sociologists of education and scholars in other disciplines about the social contexts of high schools and their relevance to curricula, achievement, and other formal processes of schooling. After using three key books in this field to trace the historical evolution of thinking about the social contexts of high schools, we describe key components of these contexts (peer networks, peer crowds, school climate) and then discuss the value of greater attention to them in educational policy and practice.


Informal processes Networks Peers School climate Social contexts 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Crosnoe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lilla Pivnick
    • 1
  • Aprile D. Benner
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TexasAustinUSA

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