Unjacketed Hardcover

The Making of a Teenage Service Class

Poverty and Mobility in an American City

Ranita Ray (Author)

Available worldwide

Unjacketed Hardcover, 300 pages
ISBN: 9780520292055
October 2017
$85.00, £66.00
Other Formats Available:
In The Making of a Teenage Service Class, Ranita Ray uncovers the pernicious consequences of focusing on risk behaviors such as drug use, gangs, violence, and teen parenthood as the key to ameliorating poverty. Ray recounts the three years she spent with sixteen poor black and brown youth, documenting their struggles to balance school and work while keeping commitments to family, friends, and lovers. Hunger, homelessness, untreated illnesses, and long hours spent traveling between work, school, and home disrupted their dreams of upward mobility. While families, schools, nonprofit organizations, academics, and policy makers stress risk behaviors in their efforts to end the cycle of poverty, Ray argues that this strategy reinforces class and racial hierarchies and diverts resources that could better support marginalized youth’s efforts to reach their educational and occupational goals.

1. The Mobility Puzzle and Irreconcilable Choices
2. Port City Rising from the Ashes
3. Sibling Ties
4. Risky Love
5. Saved by College
6. The Making of a Teenage Service Class
7. Internalizing Uncertainty: Bad Genes, Hunger, and Homelessness
8. Uncertain Success
9. Dismantling the “At Risk” Discourse

Ranita Ray is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"A rich, vivid ethnographic account of the barriers young people from a low-income community face; excellent for teaching. Highly recommended."—Annette Lareau, author of Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life

"This ethnography of the cruel illusion of upward mobility in the context of growing social inequality in America follows marginalized black and Latino youth who are 'playing by the rules.' They avoid drugs, gangs, and teenage parenthood and even apply to college, only to find themselves putting in 'mad hours' at underpaid, insecure, dead-end service sector jobs, scrambling to survive. The contemporary lie of the American dream comes alive in the everyday struggles and splintering hopes of the youths before they even have a chance to transition into adulthood."—Philippe Bourgois, author of In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio and coauthor of Righteous Dopefiend

"In a sobering and heart-wrenching account, Ranita Ray brilliantly captures the uncertainty and disappointment that prevail in the lives of marginal minority young people. Despite having high ambitions and work ethic – despite internalizing the individualist American success narrative – they suffer dearly and misrecognize the structural barriers that block their upward mobility. Ray masterfully documents their trials and tribulations through weaving family dynamics, school conditions, menial labor, romance, hunger – and more. This powerful book is a must read for anyone wanting an update on the state of young people stuck in the deep mud that is the American class system."—Randol Contreras, author of The Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream

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