Book Review with use of sociological theories of: Ain't No Makin'It: Aspirations & Attainment in a Low-Income Neighborhood by Jay MacLeod

Essay by chubaakaUniversity, Master's December 2004

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Ain't No Makin' It, was insightfully written by Jay MacLeod. MacLeod conducted his study as an undergrad student attending a nearby university. His goal was to observe people in their own setting to begin to understand and test certain theories. The three main theories that will be used to support the book are Merton's Strain Theory, Sutherland's Differential Association Theory, and Karl Marx's Achievement Ideology. The book follows the lives and academic and economic struggles of teenagers from the Clarendon Heights low-income housing development.

Clarendon Heights was a neighborhood that was looked down upon by society. Many felt that Clarendon Heights residents choose to live in community housing and should feel shameful, and could change the way in which they live if they had a strong desire to do so. It was hard for residents from the housing project to be equal to other citizens outside of the project.

When asked their address while shopping and banking they would receive looks of disappointment, skepticism, and even alarm.

MacLeod conducted interviews with fifteen teenage boys from the housing community. Of this fifteen, there are two groups of boys; the Hallway Hangers and the Brothers. The groups were from the same housing community and had similar backgrounds, but shared different outlooks, views, morals, values, and goals. In this community, 65% were White while 25% were Black, and single women headed the households.

The Hallway Hangers, (given the name because they hung out in certain hallways of the projects), were a group of racist pessimistic White boys (with the exception of one whom was Black and the other was mixed) in the respect that they did not feel their life would improve. They choose to be delinquent by not seeking jobs to support themselves, and choose a life of crime. They...