Date on Senior Honors Thesis

5-2018

Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name

B.A.

Department

Sociology

Author's Keywords

school to prison pipeline; racial discipline gap; bureaucracy; bureaucratic structures; achievement gap; racism and inequality

Abstract

The “racial discipline gap” describes the phenomenon in which black and brown youth disproportionately face exclusionary punishments in schools for instances of misbehavior. Despite the declining trends in youth violence, decades of research still show that this process ultimately leads to minority youth being processed through the courts for mostly non-violent offenses as part of the school-to-prison pipeline. This paper examines minority youth perspectives on disciplinary practices in secondary schools as responses to, and embedded within, bureaucratic practices in school disciplinary systems. Using a review of qualitative research studies and labeling theory as the primary framework for this investigation, I further explore the ways in which structural inequality is insidiously reproduced under the guise of logic and reason. Ultimately, the findings suggest that disparate discipline practices significantly affect how minority youth negatively respond to school bureaucratic procedures and teachers and administrators, as bureaucratic agents.

Lay Summary

The purpose of this thesis is to analyze minority youth perspectives on disciplinary practices in secondary schools as responses to, and embedded within, bureaucratic practices. To do so, it uses a review of qualitative research studies and labeling theory as the primary framework in exploring the ways in which structural inequality is insidiously reproduced under the guise of logic and reason. The focus of this study is particularly important as the “racial discipline gap,” or the phenomenon in which black and brown youth disproportionately face exclusionary punishments in schools for instances of misbehavior, has continued to worsen and effectively contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.

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