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This article extends our understanding of Black middle-class social mobility by examining successful cases of social reproduction. Specifically, using autoethnographic methods, two Black junior faculty reflect upon their fathers’ uses of cultural capital and the generational differences in conceptions of appropriate work. For the first generation middle-class Black fathers, material realities and the technocratic nature of their work influenced their interpretations of appropriate employment. In contrast, the second-generation’s access to particular cultural and economic capital influenced the sons’ conceptions of work, demonstrating generational differences in Black middle-class occupational ideology. Responding to deficit views on Black mobility, this article highlights the power and influence of Black fathers on mobility patterns and the resulting generational differences in appropriate work. Recommendations are presented for educators and parents in improving social mobility among young, Black middle-class males.


This article was originally published in Journal of African American Males in Education, volume 4, issue 1, in 2013.

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