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Sociology

Watch Jesse Madrigal '11 Discuss His Research

Assessing Food Security in the Inland Valley

John Bonacorsi ('12); Ashley McCoy ('10); Mentors: Maria Tucker, Gilda Ochoa

Abstract: A U.S. Department of Agriculture study estimated that over 17 million households in the U.S. suffered from food insecurity in 2008. This food assessment is designed to produce a more specific evaluation of the level of food security within the Inland Valley, and to support Uncommon Good, a non-profit organization located in Claremont, California, in its attempt to gain a federal grant to sponsor the Pomona Valley Urban Agriculture Initiative. For this assessment information was gathered through online research, surveys, focus groups, price indexing, and GIS mapping. The city of primary focus was Ontario, California. Findings indicate that lower income communities have reduced access to healthy and affordable foods. Large supermarkets, which have the most affordable healthy foods, are absent in many low-income areas. Also, lower income families are compelled to purchase fatty meats, less produce, and foods high in sugar because it is less expensive than lean meats...
Funding Provided by: The Fletcher Jones Foundation (JB), The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (AM)

Perceptions and Stigmatization of the Inner- City Unemployed: Case Study of North Lawndale

Jesse Madrigal ('12); Mentor: Gilda Ochoa

Abstract: From 1969 through 1990, more than 90 percent of American adults attributed poverty to a lack of effort by the poor (Wilson 1996, 161). Mainstream media from Fortune magazine to the Chicago Tribune perpetuated such perceptions by focusing on assumed individual deficiencies of the poor. Regardless, many social scientists find that most unemployed people want to work (McFadyen 1994, 246). This study combines literary research on the stigmas of the unemployed with a case study that includes ten in-depth interviews of residents of North Lawndale, an inner-city area of Chicago that has extreme poverty and unemployment. Interviewees recommended that additional skill-building programs and affordable options to fund continued education would substantially help their community. Results suggest a deeper understanding of the values of the unemployed by the general public are needed to pressure policymakers to work with inner-city residents to design and improve government programs, such as vocational training.
Funding provided by The Fletcher Jones Foundation

Me Voy Pa’l Salón: What Race, Beauty and Community Mean to Dominican-American Women

Elizabeth Perez ('11); Mentor: Gilda Ochoa

Abstract: The way in which women of color often construct their identity, unfortunately, is still often associating perceptions of beauty with race. This research project explores the trajectory daughters of Dominican immigrants take to negotiate new meanings of beauty and what it means to be Dominican in the United States. I conducted ethnographic research at hair salon in a Washington Heights, New York and interviewed seven young women who either attend a hair salon monthly or have gone a large amount of time without doing so. My research finds that although many do in fact recognize their African ancestry, second generation Dominican women find it difficult to break free from traditional hair practices and notions of beauty. While some do opt for natural chemical-free styling, attending their local salon provides them with a space to identify with traditional Dominican culture norms.
Funding Provided by: The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Award

Complications of Privilege: The Effect of Stereotype Threat on Black/White Biracial Individuals

Amina Simmons ('12); Marisa Franco ('11 NYU); Mentor: Mary E. Campbell*
*University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Abstract: Stereotype threat has repeatedly been proven to affect African Americans in the academic domain (Steele & Aronson, 1995), but it has not been examined for Black/White biracial individuals. The present study assessed the effect of stereotype threat on Black/White biracial individuals. A convenience sample of 10 individuals was recruited using a snowball sampling method; participants were found through churches, various multicultural organizations, and word-of-mouth. Five of the participants were placed in the experimental condition and five of the participants were placed in the control group; a matched-subjects design was used to ensure that education level was equal across both groups. The results suggest that self-identified Biracial individuals are more affected by stereotype threat than self-identified Black individuals.

Funding provided by Committee for Institutional Cooperation – SROP, University of Iowa

A Pertenecer: How Latinos/as Negotiate Sense of Belonging in Higher Education

Jessica Villasenor ('11); Mentor: Gilda Ochoa

Abstract: Latinos/as compose the fastest growing ethnic population in the United States. Unfortunately, the level of academic achievement for Latinos/as continues to lag far behind their White peers. This study builds on previous research that examines the factors that influence sense of belonging amongst Latino/a college students. Where past studies have taken quantitative approaches to determine these factors, this study employs a qualitative perspective to determine how sense of belonging manifests itself in the lives of these students. Working from a framework of racial and gender formation theory, this study uncovers what belonging means for these particular Latino/a college students attending a predominately White liberal arts college, how it manifests itself in their lives, and how this differs between genders. Understanding belonging can help close the academic achievement gap that lies between Latino/a students and their White peers as well as that which lies between Latinos and their female counterparts.
Funding provided by The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Award

Research at Pomona