In Jay MacLeod's book, Ain't No Makin' It, The Hallway Hangers and the Brothers come from the same economic background and are of similar age. The only outward difference is their race. MacLeod shows that this factor, along with class, directly influenced their aspirations, and consequently, negatively affected how these two groups fared in life.
The Brothers and Hallway Hangers both grew up in the same housing project. For the most part, their parents did not graduate from high school. Furthermore, most of their parents worked in low paying factory or service jobs. Often times they have a hard time holding onto their jobs.
This lower class position disadvantages both the Hallway Hangers and Brothers. At school, their ways of speaking, dress, and other mannerisms are not valued by the educational system. Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu calls these elements "culture capital (Pg. 13). For example, students that live in a poor homes where their parents were not home to read to them early on, may lag behind more affluent students that had that luxury. Since schools value good grammar, the more affluent student holds the advantage over the poorer one. This leads to tracking students into alternative schools that focus in on vocational areas or weakened lesson plans for "troubled students. This action reinforces the class divisions between low-income students and higher-class students. It also levels the aspirations of both Clarendon Heights groups by subconsciously making the two groups accept their lower class roles.
The Hallway Hangers see education and working hard as a waste of time. They see the illusion behind the American Dream and decide to rebel against it by not going to school, and get messed up on drugs and alcohol. They're unwillingness to conform to society's rules, leads them down a hard path of jail, unemployment, and drug addictions.