Ethnic and Racial Boundaries

Natasha K. Warikoo

in Balancing Acts

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262102
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947795 | DOI:
Ethnic and Racial Boundaries

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This chapter takes a symbolic-boundaries approach to youth cultures to provide an understanding of the boundaries of “us” and “them” that students draw, providing a comparison between the two schools, York High School, New York City and Long Meadow Community School, London. The findings reveal that New Yorkers divide much more along racial and ethnic lines than their London counterparts. New York youth are more than three times more likely to mention race and ethnic groups when asked to describe their school's social groups than teens in London. Also, New Yorkers more frequently cite race or ethnic groups, when asked who is popular and unpopular in their school, than their counterparts. Lastly, they are less likely to have close friendships with peers of different backgrounds; are less likely to feel comfortable talking with other races; and are more likely to have an in-group preference for dating. Therefore, the contrasting organizational structures of the two schools, typical of their respective cities, exert a strong influence on the relatively greater salience of race and ethnicity for symbolic boundaries in New York compared to London.

Keywords: symbolic boundaries; racial; ethnic; youth culture; social groups

Chapter.  13470 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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