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Ain't No Makin' It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low-Income Neighborhood, Third Edition [Paperback]

Jay MacLeod
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 29 2008 0813343585 978-0813343587 Third Edition

 This classic text addresses one of the most important issues in modern social theory and policy: how social inequality is reproduced from one generation to the next. With the original 1987 publication of Ain’t No Makin’ It Jay MacLeod brought us to the Clarendon Heights housing project where we met the “Brothers” and the “Hallway Hangers.” Their story of poverty, race, and defeatism moved readers and challenged ethnic stereotypes. MacLeod’s return eight years later, and the resulting 1995 revision, revealed little improvement in the lives of these men as they struggled in the labor market and crime-ridden underground economy.


The third edition of this classic ethnography of social reproduction brings the story of inequality and social mobility into today’s dialogue. Now fully updated with thirteen new interviews from the original Hallway Hangers and Brothers, as well as new theoretical analysis and comparison to the original conclusions, Ain’t No Makin’ It remains an admired and invaluable text.



Part One: The Hallway Hangers and the Brothers as Teenagers
1. Social Immobility in the Land of Opportunity
2. Social Reproduction in Theoretical Perspective
3. Teenagers in Clarendon Heights: The Hallway Hangers and the Brothers
4. The Influence of the Family
5. The World of Work: Aspirations of the Hangers and Brothers
6. School: Preparing for the Competition
7. Leveled Aspirations: Social Reproduction Takes Its Toll
8. Reproduction Theory Reconsidered

Part Two: Eight Years Later: Low Income, Low Outcome
9. The Hallway Hangers: Dealing in Despair
10. The Brothers: Dreams Deferred
11. Conclusion: Outclassed and Outcast(e)

Part Three: Ain’t No Makin’ It?
12. The Hallway Hangers: Fighting for a Foothold at Forty
13. The Brothers: Barely Making It
14. Making Sense of the Stories, by Katherine McClelland and David Karen

Frequently Bought Together

Ain't No Makin' It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low-Income Neighborhood, Third Edition + Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures + Handbook of Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Price For All Three: CDN$ 124.96

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About the Author

Jay MacLeod is a parish priest in England. Combining Christian ministry with community work, MacLeod still plays streetball, or tries to. His working-class parish is one of the most ethnically diverse square miles in Britain, and MacLeod works closely with members of the local mosques to engage disaffected teenagers and to foster friendships across the lines of race and religion. He and his wife, Sally Asher, have three children—Asher, Kate, and Toby.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
This book provides a thorough account of the aspirations and expectations of two male peer groups residing in a public housing project. Both peer groups, although originating from similar class locations, have distinct aspirations resulting from their racial lived experiences. The peer group consisting mostly of young black men (The Brothers) supported the achievement ideology that we live in an open society. They viewed the hardships faced by previous generations was a result of racial discrimination barriers that (theoretically) cease to exist. They applied themselves in socially acceptable practices such as excelling in school and keeping out of trouble. In contrast, the peer group consisting of mostly young white men (Hallway Hangers) rejected the achievement ideology and had low aspirations of their position in the labor market. They realized through family and friends that their chances of getting out of the projects is slim leading most of the Hallway Hangers dropped out of school and smoked dope, among other illegal activities. Despite the disjuncture of both groups' levels of aspirations, both failed to get out of poverty. MacLeod hung out with both of these male peer groups in an effort to understand their daily meanings of the role of education and their future aspirations rather than relying exclusively on statistical data.
I give this book four stars because MacLeod failed to take into consideration the aspirations and expectations of young women. Instead he concentrated solely on the role of race and class. I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand how societal structures restrict and limit the actions of individuals. Furthermore this book challenges the myth that education creates a level playing field for all regardless of race or class (and gender too ~ although not addressed here).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Troublesome Sept. 7 2003
I read this years ago in an anthropology/sociology class in college, and I can say that it still carries as much weight today as it did then. Jay manages to weave entertaining narration with factual reporting, resulting in a moving work that points a critical finger at our society. I've actually met the author, and can say that he is an honest, engaging and professional writer. At no point did he milk the drama angle of this work, nor use it to further his own agenda. I noticed another reviewer called this book "socialist junk"; to this person I say: just because this work is a testament to some of the failures of America's precious capitalist model does not immediately make it socialist. Moreover, if socialism means having a conscience about racism and socioeconomic discrimination, then sign me up!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Truth About Poverty in America Dec 2 1999
By A Customer
This book gives an excellent insight into the lives of teenagers living in a low-income neighborhood. The book calls into question the American achievement ideology and forces the reader to reconsider his or her pre-concieved notions on poverty and its causes. The truth is that people aren't poor because they are lazy; they are poor because of numberous structural barriers in society that basicly trap them into poverty. This book is excellent for anyone interested in the social structure, but it would be better for someone who has never thought about the way society works and has the kind of closed-mindedness that cause many upper and middle-class people to view people of lesser social standing as lazy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The American Achievement Ideology is False June 2 2000
This book explores the lives of two groups of inner-city teenagers. One group adamently believes in the achievement ideology, and the other group rejects it. Hence the title, the outcome for both groups is the same. I recommend this book to those who refuse to cast away their pre-conceived notions that those who live in poverty are lazy and stupid. This book is a painfully real account of the different ways in which society plays a detrimental role in the lives of the less fortunate, while allowing the upper class to place the blame on the victims themselves (in the name of the acheivement ideology).
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