Carter’s Stickiest Thorn: Segregation & Divisions, Subordinate Typologies, and Associated Stereotypes

This was written for Washington State University’s SOC-352, Youth and Society, lead by Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson, PhD.

Divisions (e.g., gender), subordinate typologies (e.g., he, she, they), and associated stereotypes are the most powerful social forces maintaining inequalities among youth. These are responsible for dimensions of poverty-affluence and adversity-opportunity. Furlong (2013) mentioned “the big three” divisions of gender, class, and race/ethnicity though there are others (p. 25). Cultural stereotypes empower discrimination in responding to and structuring divisions resulting in unequally conditioned agencies constrained by unequal structures. For example, stereotypes of how women ought to act and behave discriminates access to resources in support of developing skills (i.e., human capital), social relationships (i.e., social capital), and knowledge of navigating society (i.e., cultural capital). Expecting that young woman should fulfill future roles of a child-rearing wife constrained women’s representation in STEM fields (see Charles, 2011). There is evidence that cultural stereotypes associated with divisional typologies have consequences. Economic needs of a developing nations preceded development of idealized masculinized identities resulting in more equal participation of genders in STEM fields (Charles, 2011).

Singular types of divisional typologies do not solely maintain inequality amongst youth, segregation (i.e., division) itself continuously maintains inequality. In contrast to gender, Carter (2018) writes that black youth are subjected to prejudices of expected “mischief and naughtiness” (p. 25), living in neighborhoods “significantly poorer” (p. 26). Carter thought segregation is the “stickiest thorn”, referencing racial and economic inequality (p. 27). While economic inequality is measurable in the three capitals (e.g., human, social, and cultural capital; Furlong, 2013, pp. 33-34), divisions have consequences. Bridging- and bonding-capitals connect and isolate individuals across and within divisional typologies, maintaining the poor and disadvantaged (p. 35; Jones, 2000). Perhaps divisional typologies themselves are strain inducing (see Merton, 1938).


Carter, P. L. (2018). Education’s limitations and its radical possibilities. Contexts, 17(2), 22–27.

Charles, M. (2011). What gender is science? Contexts, 10(2), 22–28.

Furlong, A. (2013). Youth studies: An introduction. Routledge.

Merton, R. K. (1938). Social structure and anomie. American Sociological Review, 3(5), 672-682.

Jones, G. (1995). Social protection policies for young people: A cross-national comparison. In. H. Bradley and van J. Hoof (Eds.), Young people in Europe: Labour markets and citizenship (pp. 41-62).