Private spaces in public places: Class in a suburban, public high school
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This research is an ethnographic study examining the identity development among high school students in a predominantly white, suburban, high performing public high school in Lumpkin County. Focusing on the school space, culture and climate, this study explores the role and influence of school in the formation of participants' class and racial identities. Through the various messages received and negotiated in the school and from the articulated values of family and community, the students in this study work to define, and present, who they are and who they are expected to become. The research also explores the school structure, the social structure and culture within the school and community and the meaning students make and convey about their own and perceived classed and raced selves. Conducted in the 2003/04 academic school year, the study is based on data from participant and non-participant observation; in-depth interviews and conversations with students, faculty, parents, and document analysis. Through interviews, the voices of eleven students, two parents and two faculty members were included as they reflected on their day to day experiences and their perceptions of those experiences. The theoretical framework for this study is anchored in the research on student identity formation, racial and class constructs, as well as elite school settings. This study addresses how these categories intersect in individual and collective experiences as students negotiate messages they receive in a particular school setting. Further, this research explores how specific behaviors, values and expectations influence, socialize and prepare students for their future participation in society both in their lives and in their work.