This qualitative study examines the way three American young adolescent girls who come from different class and racial backgrounds construct their social and academic identities in the context of their traditional mathematics classroom. The overall analysis shows an interesting dynamic among each participant’s class and racial background, their social/academic identity and its collective foundation, the types of ideologies they repudiate and subscribe to, the implicit and explicit strategies they adopt in order to support the legitimacy of their own position, and the ways they manifest their position and identity in their use of language referring to their mathematics classroom. Detailed analysis of their use of particular terms, such as “I,” “we,” “they,” and “should/shouldn’t” elucidates that each participant has a unique view of her mathematics classroom, developing a different type of collective identity associated with a particular group of students. Most importantly, this study reveals that the girls actively construct a social and ideological web that helps them articulate their ethical and moral standpoint to support their positions. Throughout the complicated appropriation process of their own identity and ideological standpoint, the three girls made different choices of actions in mathematics learning, which in turn led them to a different math track the following year largely constraining their possibility of access to higher level mathematical knowledge in the subsequent schooling process.
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