Orlando Patterson and Ethan Fosse

discuss

The Cultural Matrix:
Understanding Black Youth

This event includes a book signing

Date

Apr
10
Friday
April 10, 2015
3:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes Harvard University's ORLANDO PATTERSON and ETHAN FOSSE for a discussion of their book The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth.

The Cultural Matrix seeks to unravel a uniquely American paradox: the socioeconomic crisis, segregation, and social isolation of disadvantaged black youth, on the one hand, and their extraordinary integration and prominence in popular culture on the other. Despite school dropout rates over 40 percent, a third spending time in prison, chronic unemployment, and endemic violence, black youth are among the most vibrant creators of popular culture in the world. They also espouse several deeply-held American values. To understand this conundrum, the authors bring culture back to the forefront of explanation, while avoiding the theoretical errors of earlier culture-of-poverty approaches and the causal timidity and special pleading of more recent ones.

There is no single black youth culture, but a complex matrix of cultures—adapted mainstream, African-American vernacular, street culture, and hip-hop—that support and undermine, enrich and impoverish young lives. Hip-hop, for example, has had an enormous influence, not always to the advantage of its creators. However, its muscular message of primal honor and sensual indulgence is not motivated by a desire for separatism but by an insistence on sharing in the mainstream culture of consumption, power, and wealth.

This interdisciplinary work draws on all the social sciences, as well as social philosophy and ethnomusicology, in a concerted effort to explain how culture, interacting with structural and environmental forces, influences the performance and control of violence, aesthetic productions, educational and work outcomes, familial, gender, and sexual relations, and the complex moral life of black youth.

Ethan Fosse
Ethan Fosse

Ethan Fosse

Ethan Fosse is a doctoral student in Sociology at Harvard University.

Orlando Patterson
Orlando Patterson

Orlando Patterson

Orlando Patterson is John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University.

Photo Credit: Stu Rosner

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

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Event Series: Friday Forum

Harvard Book Store's Friday Forum series takes place on Friday afternoons during the academic year as a way to highlight scholarly books in a wide range of fields, with a particular focus on local scholars. Friday Forums take place at 3pm in Harvard Book Store.

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