Cultural explanations for racial and ethnic stratification in academic achievement: a call for a new and improved theory.
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CitationWarikoo, Natasha, and Prudence Carter. 2009. Cultural explanations for racial and ethnic stratification in academic achievement: a call for a new and improved theory. Review of Educational Research 79, no. 1:366-394.
AbstractIn this article we assess the literature on cultural explanations for ethno-racial differences in K-12 schooling and academic performance. Some cultural arguments problematically define certain ethno-racial identities and cultures as subtractive from the goal of academic mobility, while simultaneously defining the ethnic cultures and identities of others as additive and oriented towards this goal. We review two prevailing schools of thought that compare immigrant and native minority students: cultural ecological theory (CET) and segmented assimilation theory. Second, we examine empirical research that highlights the complexity of culture, focusing on four domains: (1) the school’s cultural ethos; (2) variation in identities and cultural practices within ethnic and racial groups; (3) the multidimensional nature of culture and its variable impact on students; and (4) the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, and gender. This literature—when synthesized—suggests that a coherent theory of culture’s impact on ethnic and racial differences in schooling outcomes must unpack the multiple influences of identity and context more deliberately than previous literature has done. Finally, we call for studies that employ comparative research across groups and treat race and ethnicity as dependent rather than independent variables, thereby equipping researchers with the tools to better explain how culture influences schooling and achievement.
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