Men and Masculinities, Vol. 9, No. 1, 53-75 (2006)
Â© 2006 SAGE Publications
Cultural Capital and High School Bullies
How Social Inequality Impacts School Violence
Jessie Klein Adelphi University
This analysis of male peer hierarchies in schools argues that battles for cultural capital are a significant causal factor in the spate of school shootings across the United States between 1996 and 2002. The hallmarks of normalized masculinityâ€”hypermasculine identification, athletics, fighting, distance from homosexuality, dominant relationships with girls, socioeconomic status, and disdain for academicsâ€”do not include alternative ways to build cultural capital when young men do not fit into rigid traditional social structures. Lacking such cultural capital, the perpetrators attempted to prove their masculinity through overwhelming violenceâ€”responses that in Michel Foucaultâ€™s theoretical framework, reinforced the very power structures they seemed to want to destroy. The analysis concludes with positive directions for change including pedagogical strategies.