Author: Thomas, Mary E.

Title: ‘I Think it’s Just Natural’: The Spatiality of Racial Segregation at a US High School

University Affiliation: Ohio State University


Research Question: How does race and it’s ambivalences occur through girls’ everyday and banal spatial practices at school?

Published: Yes

Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation: Environment and Planning

Journal Entry: Volume 37 Pp. 1233-1248

Year: 2013


1) Force versus choice: the segregated lunchroom

The author focuses on the discourses of two girls, one White and one black, in examining the mechanisms that produce segregation in the lunchroom. Both girls profess that they are agentic in their decisions on where to sit and whom to sit with in the lunch room. However, both girls as well as their peers accept and reinforce the social boundaries between racial and gendered categories of students. They do not feel that this segregation is forced, but rather that it is just the “way it is”.

2) The ‘average person’ : identifying and spatializing racism

In this finding, the author argues that certain behaviors by students are practices of racism and racial othering. Through various discourses of White and black female students, the author finds that White students actively police White spaces utilizing a racist evaluation of black subjects to achieve racial othering. The discourses analyzed here a filled with stereotypical assumptions about racialized behavior, similar to that of oppositional culture. In these ways, racial differences are maintained and the boundaries between racialized spaces are policed. For an example, the stigma of “acting White” enters into racialized talk when a black student enters a White space such as the honors classroom. By labeling the black students as “White”, the Whiteness of the space is maintained.

Scholarship Type Journal Article Empirical Research

Keywords: Gender, Intergroup Relations, Oppositional Culture Theory, Peer Effects, Race

Regions South

Methodologies: Qualitative

Research Designs: Interviews, Participant observation

Method of Analysis: Qualitative Techniques

Sampling Frame: Female high school students at one Charleston, SC, USA school

Sample Types: Nonrandom

Unit of Analysis: Individual

Data Types: Qualitative-Cross Sectional

Data Description: For the current study, a sub-sample was selected from a larger sample by the same author. In this paper, the author draws on interviews held with eight teenage girls (ages 14-19) who attend the same high school in Charleston in the spring and summer of 2000. Three of the girls are African America and five are White.


Entry Created at: 2013-07-25 02:38:46 UTC
Last Update: 2017-06-21 20:59:19 UTC