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Getting Schooled: Intra-Ethnic Differentiation, School Acts in Making Differences


"We all go to school...nobody wants to be here, but that's the way it is! Everyone's got to get schooled." Countless hours committed to classroom, playground and homework naturalize an otherwise arbitrary arrangement best understood as "getting schooled." School participants fundamentally understand this education process is about acquiring explicit systematic instruction.

This dissertation presents the school experience as a place of multiple meanings where Intra-ethnic differentiation examines the process of identity categories among adolescents within a Chicano-Latino community set in a South Central middle school of Los Angeles, California. This study documents the multiple categories as intra-ethnic differentiation among Chicano Latino school youth, defined as an experience of community fragmentation where members express distinct in-group differences that contrast an external appearance of homogeneity and or solidarity; fragmented into multiple dynamic identities set in internal relationships of rank. The intra-ethnic inventory include: "cholos", "schoolies", "players", "los americanizados" ( the Americanized), "Chuntaros"( rift raft, undesirable poor), " the Mexican-Mexicans", "county rushers", " punks" and "posers." The expressed divisions are characteristic of fluid boundaries involved in dialectic between-group relationships creating, modifying and challenging power, prestige and resources. The following text demonstrates that each identity is accompanied by respective educational, social, economic, and institutional opportunities and boundaries. The different identities exist as consequence of strategies of adaptation to socio-economic, political and national pressures. In a scholastic context, ethnic membership becomes a commodity of change responsive to survival mechanisms; identity models develop as abstract processes that are both self and externally defined and accompanied with real world consequences. The students must contend with and navigate identity fields they did not create. The demands, expectations and socioeconomic arrangements of the larger non curricular society are reflected and "acted out" on the school grounds.

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