Julie Bettie Women Without Class Analysis

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In Julie Bettie’s, “Women Without Class”, she studies the differences between white and Mexican-American working-class senior year girls in high school. She aims to explain how race and gender intersect with class to shape both success in high school as well as class future. Not only are symbolic boundaries found between the girls that she studies, but also many factors including cultural capital and peer hierarchy that effect these students. Firstly, the symbolic boundaries created between the preps and las chicas starts with the symbolic economy of style. Bettie explains that, “hairstyles, clothes, shoes, and the colors of lipstick, lip liner, and nail polish, in particular, were key markers in the symbolic economy that were employed to …show more content…

Another symbolic boundary created between the preps and las chicas was the sexual relationships that the girls had with boys. Bettie argues that, “there were girls who did and girls who didn’t across all group categories, but the race and class injury that occurred was in the perception of who was too sexually active” (2002:68). While the prep girls kept their identities clear and clean with birth control or abortion, the las chicas did not have as many options as they did thus leaving them with a negative light. The las chicas’ style was interpreted by school personnel and preps with more dismissal then anything. Bettie argues that the “las chicas’ style” wasn’t taken as a “marker of race/ethnicity” and “class distinction” but “was reduced to gender and sexuality” (2002:65). Teachers often dismissed the styles that the las chicas expressed, but did focus on making things seem neutral such as making the scholarship/award ceremonies during school optional. And punished boys in classes for whatever problem while dismissing the …show more content…

For example, the award ceremonies that took place were seen as simply events that celebrated only preps and not anyone else. After all, many non-preps like the example of a student named Wendy, thought that they deserved an award because of their social and economic situations and how they have to live through and experience hardship. A major problem with the hierarchy and school was the “invisibility” that surrounded these students. Both the students and school personnel did not pay much mind to this group, more dismissing them as just being “there”. As Bettie argues, “at the bottom of the peer hierarchy among white students, the smokers overtly rejected schooling and middle-class norms by association” (2002:102). While preps were engaged in many activities such as pep rallies, contests, and events, the hard-living students deemed these events as merely over-glorifying the preps and preferring to disassociate themselves. The difference between the white hard-living students and preps were their cultural capital and experiences at home and neighborhood. These events and experiences are what created the peer hierarchy between the preps and non-preps. In other words “hard-living habitus” is what Bettie argues and explains as “the discourse of other students, teachers, and curriculum material worked

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