Theses Doctoral

Plessy's Tracks: A Study of the Roots and Routes of Tracking in a Suburban Middle School Community

Lofton, Richard

This dissertation highlights the interconnected relationship of community, family, and school by tracing the lived experiences of African American students and parents to capture how they come to terms with where they are situated in racially diverse settings. The research also shows the intergenerational impact of tracking on African American families who attended the same racially diverse school and lived in a segregated African American neighborhood. Racialized tracking and the segregated African American community have contributed to separate and unequal outcomes, treatment, and performances that demonstrate a racialized duplicity in the United States. Utilizing and building on the theorizing of Pierre Bourdieu's (1977a, 1977b) theorizing about habitus, this study reveals how race, place, and class impact the perceptions of African American students and their parents by mapping out their routes, which include their everyday journey from their homes, school, and community. In addition, Michele Foucault's concept of subjugated knowledge captures how tracking and unequal educational experiences are deeply rooted within a larger struggle for equality for African Americans, which results in an uneven distribution of power/knowledge in the United States. The duplicity that African Americans have to confront in schools and communities is what I refer to as Plessy's tracks. This dissertation thus examines and connects the routes, roots, and academic tracks of African American students and their parents to bring an understanding of how they perceived academic placement and their social positions in a segregated community and a racially diverse school.


  • thumnail for Lofton_columbia_0054D_12419.pdf Lofton_columbia_0054D_12419.pdf binary/octet-stream 1.17 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociology and Education
Thesis Advisors
Riehl, Carolyn
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 1, 2015