Reasons For Endorsing or Rejecting Achievement Ideology
Jay MacLeod studied two groups of boys who live in a low-income neighborhood for his book, Ain’t No Makin' It. The “Hallway Hangers,” a group a mostly white boys, did not endorse the American achievement ideology. MacLeod found that this was a result of several factors. The Hallway Hangers' parents wanted the best for their children and for them to do well but feared encouraging high aspirations because they did not want to set them up for failure and disappointment.
Therefore, not only do students from low income backgrounds see underachievement as they grow up, but parents might also be affected by an environment of underachievement and exacerbate this for their children. The Hallway Hangers and their parents go against the achievement ideology because they do not see success in the future through hard work despite the environment of underachievement. Also, to accept the achievement ideology would be to say that their parents who have not “succeeded” are lazy or unintelligent.
The “Brothers” are a group of African-American boys who live in the same housing project as the Hallway Hangers. They, however, do endorse the American achievement ideology. The Brothers see the racial situation in America as vastly improved since the situation of previous generations. This causes them to believe that each generation has worked harder and harder, and, if they do the same, they will be able to do well in school and succeed in the workforce. The Brothers have also lived in the housing project for far less time than the Hallway Hangers whose families have lived there for up to three generations. Many also moved to the housing project from far worse situations such as impoverished countries and even lower income neighborhoods. This causes the Brothers to think that they are upwardly mobile.
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