Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



It was the interest of this project to determine if law-related educational activities – when incorporated into after-school and summer programs that are rooted in marginalized communities – were effective when applied to adolescent residents. The current study is informed by theories of place, social class, social disorganization and juvenile delinquency. Using ethnographical methods, this project followed after-school and summer programs developed for youth in a South Louisiana black community characterized by pockets of poverty, blight and disorder. Through qualitative data analysis, the themes of how community operated in the target neighborhoods, how community members responded to neighborhood disorder and thoughts on the after-school and summer programs were found among the 24 interviews conducted with program participants, their parents, program volunteers and community leaders, and among the observational fieldnotes taken during the programs. Thematic connections were found that told the story of this divided South Louisiana black community and the adolescents who are growing up in those neighborhoods. The primary effect of the programs on participants with more supportive home environments and more social capital were to challenge their existing skill sets and knowledge base while encouraging teamwork, analytical processing and argument building. Younger adolescents from lower social groups with less parental involvement experienced a confidence boost after completion of the summer institute, but were at times less engaged and more easily distracted. Findings suggest that law-related youth educational programming – which is designed to be applicable to a wide spectrum of students ranging from gifted to delinquent – held within a marginalized community was effective to varying degrees for all program participants, regardless of social class, gender or age group.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Barton, Michael



Included in

Sociology Commons