The Social Construction of Reality Among Black Disadvantaged


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Loyola University Chicago
Loyola eCommons

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Theses and Dissertations

1997
The Social Construction of Reality Among Black Disadvantaged Adolescents: A Case Study Exploring the Relationship of Poverty, Race, and Schooling
Loretta J. Brunious Loyola University Chicago

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Recommended Citation Brunious, Loretta J., "The Social Construction of Reality Among Black Disadvantaged Adolescents: A Case Study Exploring the Relationship of Poverty, Race, and Schooling" (1997). Dissertations. 3653. https://ecommons.luc.edu/luc_diss/3653
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. Copyright © 1997 Loretta J. Brunious

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO
THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY AMONG BLACK DISADVANTAGED ADOLESCENTS: A CASE STUDY EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP OF POVERTY
RACE AND SCHOOLING
A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
IN CANDIDACY FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND POLICY STUDIES
BY LORETTA J. BRUNIOUS
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JANUARY 1997

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Copyright by Loretta J. Brunious, 1997 All rights reserved
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The writing of this dissertation has been enhanced by my committee chairman, Dr. Steven Miller. Through his guidance, expertise, and support, a probable research study became a reality. I would also like to acknowledge my committee members, Dr. Talmadge Wright and Dr. Carol Harding for unselfishly giving of their time. The completion of this dissertation would have been inconceivable without the support, understanding, and patience of my mother Anice Mobley and son, Courtney. Finally, I must give recognition to my able and delightful friend, Carmen Tolhurst, for her scholarly assistance.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...................................... .. .............. .......... ........ ................. .. 11

LIST OF TABLES.................................................................................................... 111

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS .................................. ..... ............ ......... .. ..... ................... iv

CHAPTER

1

1. INTRODUCTION .............................................................................. . 1

The Purpose of the Study ......................................................... 3

The Significance of the Study ................................................... 5

Definitions............................................................................... 7

Methodology ........................................................................... 8

Data Sources ........................................................................... 9

Data Collection ...................................................................... 16

Interview Schedule .................................................................. 16

Interpretation and Analysis ...................................................... 18

2. REVIEWOFTHELITERATURE..................................................... 21

Introduction ........................................................................... 21

The Historical Perspective ...................................................... 23

The Pedagogical Machinery.................................................... 30

Why Disadvantaged Students Do Not Succeed .......... 36

The Social Construction of Reality Among Black Disadvantaged Adolescents ................................................................ 41

The Role of Mass Media and Popular Culture in Shaping Perception of Constructed Social Reality ..................... 49

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3. THE SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS............................................ 58 The Setting ............................................................................. 58 The Participants ...................................................................... 65 The Seventh Graders ................................................... 66 The Eighth Graders..................................................... 85
Summary ........................................... ........................ ........ ........ ........ 124 4. HOW DO DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN SOCIALLY CONSTRUCT THEIR
REALITY ......... ............................................. ... ............................................ 126 Perception of the Purpose of Schooling .............. ......... ........ ....... ........ 129 The Meaning of Schooling ...................................................... 130 Perception of Authority Figures as External "Shapers" of Socially Constructed Reality.................................................... 139 Perceived Future of Schooling in Relation to the Common Sense World ......................................................................... 147 Psychological and Social Factors Related to Social Reality Construction ........................................................................... 150 Perceptions of Self in Relation to the Environment ................. 151 Exposure to Other People's Reality ........................................ 181 The Color Complex ................................................................ 185 The Effects of Socially Constructed Reality in Relation to a Perceived Future ......................................................... 191
5. THE ROLE OF THE MASS MEDIA AND POPULAR CULTURE IN SHAPING PERCEPTION OF CONSTRUCTED SOCIAL REALITY ............ ............... 197
6. CONCLUSIONS IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ............. 214 Profile of the Population .................................................................... 217
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The Perception of the Purpose of Schooling ....................................... 218 The Meaning of Schooling ...................................................... 219 Perception of Authority Figures as External "Shapers" of Socially Constructed Reality .................................................... 221 Perceived Effective Schools .................................................... 226
Psychological and Social Factors Related to Socially Constructed Reality ............................................................................... 228 Perception of Self in Relation to Environment ......................... 229 Exposure to Other People's Reality ........................................ 233 The Color Complex ................................................................ 234 The Effects of Socially Constructed Reality in Relation to a Perceived Future ......................................................... 236
The Role of the Mass Media and Popular Culture in Shaping Perception of Constructed Social Reality ..................................................... 23 7
Implications and Recommendations................................................... 239 Pedagogical Implications and Recommendations ..................... 239 Social Implications and Recommendation ............................... 241 Recommendations for Further Research ................................. 243 Limitations of the Study ......................................................... 243
APPENDICES .......... ........................................ ............................................. ........... 245 APPENDIX A ................................................... ............................................ 246 APPENDIXB ............................................................................................... 271
BIBLIOGRAPHY ............ ... .. .... ..... ........................................................................... 283 VITA ........................................................................................................................ 297
VI

LIST OF TABLES

Table

Page

1. Englewood Labor Force Status.................................................... 60

2. Educational Attainment ............................................................... 61

3. Chicago Sites and Landmarks ...................................................... 179

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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Figure

Page

1. Labor Force Chart ....................................................................... 60

2. Education Chart .......................................................................... 61

3. Gang Territory Chart .................................................................. 153

4. "Alive" Cartoon .......................................................................... 191

5. Causal Network.......................................................................... 216

6. Gang Structure ........ ................................................................... 230

7-11 Wolfs Art Work.......................................................................... Appendix A

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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
Realities are unique to each individual. Peter Burger and Thomas Luckmann (1967) allude to this fact in that,
Everyday life presents itself as a reality interpreted by men [sic] and subjectively meaningful to them as a coherent world ... The world of everyday life is not only taken for granted as reality by ordinary members of society in the subjectively meaningful conduct of their lives. It is a world that originates in their thoughts and actions, and is maintained as real ( p. 19). Children's reality is no exception: it is also subjectively created and personally meaningful. But personal realities are not totally internal. Individuals also rely on others' perceptions in order to construct personal realities. For black children, particularly those at economic disadvantage, this is a particularly critical factor in their perception and creation of the self
To what extent does society function on preconceived ideas about black, disadvantaged children? Can we distinguish between our realities and ways of seeing and theirs? Is it possible to understand and accept that what is "real" to one is not necessarily so to another? An African proverb states, "Let him speak who has seen with his eyes," (Leslau, 1985, p. 18). While this makes common sense, it is not sufficient. To understand black disadvantaged adolescents' notion of the self, it is necessary to understand how they see reality. In the Handbook of Research on Teaching , Frederick Erikson (1986) writes that realities exist in specific contexts, and crucially, that there is a quality of invisibility in

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