Class Rules: Exposing Inequality in American High Schools
Class Rules challenges the popular myth that American high schools are “the great equalizers” and demonstrates how these schools create enduring inequality through their socialization processes.
Peter Cookson, Jr. compares the cultures and curricula of five high schools that have contrasting social class compositions: an elite boarding school and public schools in a wealthy suburb, a middle-class neighborhood, a working-class rural community, and a low-income urban community. He describes how the structure, rites of passage, and class consciousness in each school reproduce social class inequality. It shows that students undergo different class rites of passage depending on the social—class composition of the high schools they attend, and where they go to high school is a major influence on their social class trajectory.