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Title page for ETD etd-03312015-135149

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hill, Kristin Anita
Author's Email Address kristin.a.hill@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03312015-135149
Title Under the Shade of Hopelessness: Future Orientation and Black Middle Class Youth
Degree Master of Arts
Department Medicine, Health, and Society
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Aimi Hamraie Committee Chair
Hector Myers Committee Co-Chair
  • Future Orientation
  • hopelessness
  • violence exposure
  • Black-identity formation
  • middle/working-class
  • upward social mobility
Date of Defense 2015-03-12
Availability unrestricted
Previous research in low-income urban environments led to the conclusion that the underachievement of African-American youth is attributed to their disadvantaged environment and lack of self-esteem. In recent years, however, I observed a similar underachievement and lack of future orientation, or the image one has for their future, in middle/working-class African-American students at Chute Middle School in the middle-class suburb of Evanston, IL. My research is unique in that it focuses on middle and working-class African-American youth living in a suburban environment and proposes a new perspective of future orientation as a summation of self-concept, perceived societal worth, life expectancy, and belief in one’s potential for upward mobility. Despite residence in Evanston, these youth are still exposed to violence, both locally and nationally, which negatively impacts the development and pursuit of a positive future orientation. I believe a sense of hopelessness is cultivated via the influence of interpersonal and structural violence, invidious class-based comparison, and inequity on the formation of positive Black identity and upward social mobility. This pathway is further substantiated with psychological, sociological, and intersectional frameworks that accentuate the dynamic relationship between an individual and their environment, and the unique consequences of race and class relations. This thesis is a literature review designed to build a foundation that will support ethnographic research and field work of Chute Middle School in the near future.
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