Karolyn Tyson, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor and Associate Chair of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joins the Public Policy Lab (PPL) for our Inaugural Colloquium Series.
Trust in Times of Crisis and Change: Implications for Policy and Practice.
Sampson Hills is an affluent and predominantly white suburb in the Northeast, with a small but established black population. Although it is a “destination district”—a place to which families move for access to high-quality material goods and services, including high-performing schools—black children have endured educational exclusion for decades. What explains this longstanding pattern, particularly in a setting that presumably offers greater opportunities for educational success and social mobility? To address this question, Dr. Karolyn Tyson, Professor and Associate Chair of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, focuses on disproportionality in special education and explores the paradox of how some parents’ trust of schools can contribute to unfavorable outcomes for their children. Based on data from a community ethnography of Sampson Hills, she argues that low-resourced parents are vulnerable to trust. Dr. Tyson shows that in unequal power relationships, individuals with lower power and limited resources are at greater risk of manipulation, yet more compelled to trust, particularly in situations in which the decision holds enormous consequences. To understand ongoing mechanisms of educational inequality, she advances the idea of vulnerability to trust, arguing that vulnerability is a position of structural disadvantage and not simply a position one assumes voluntarily as a way to inspire trust.