Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Gina Athena Ulysse

Major

Anthropology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

In this thesis, I complicate the notion that education is an accessible and liberating force that equally propels us towards success and the American Dream. The research is based on fieldwork conducted at the educational nonprofit Prep for Prep - which assists underrepresented students in attending elite secondary education schools. I consider the various strategies that Prep uses to resocialize and expose their students to white middle class habitus prior to entering elite educational institutions and reveal how these spaces- designed for the power and comfort of white, wealthy students- remain exclusionary and marginalize students of color. Still, while recognizing the benefits of this program, I argue that Prep’s processes only serve to reinforce hegemonic values of whiteness and wealth that exist within and outside of the halls of such institutions. I conclude with analysis of the inherent contradictions of the social-service nonprofit. Indeed, Prep for Prep, with its emphasis on personal achievement rather than structurally challenging the root causes of educational inequity, operates within a neoliberal system that paradoxically recreates itself.

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