Managing risk and 'giving back': Aspiration among working-class Latino youth in Silicon Valley

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This article focuses on the formation of aspirations among low-income, 'at-risk' Latino youth attending a state and privately funded Biotechnology Academy within a public high school in San Jose, California. I identify a pattern of aspiration among Academy youth that contradicts the goal of individual advancement in the regional information economy stressed in the Academy: the desire to give back to a 'community' or to the nation via public service, especially that focused on the monitoring of 'at-risk' communities or military service. I link this pattern of aspiration to a school environment that promoted students' internalization of an 'at-risk' status and encouraged their assumption of personal responsibility for that status. I also seek to demonstrate the ways in which an urban politics of surveillance and experiences of social and economic marginalization outside of school articulated with daily school experiences of surveillance and discipline to produce unanticipated ways of assuming responsibility for an 'at-risk' status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-113
Number of pages25
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Latino youth
  • Silicon Valley
  • information economy
  • personal responsibility
  • surveillance


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