In "The Saints and the Roughnecks," is what the researcher uncovered surprising?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not particularly surprised by Chambliss' findings.  I believe that his work speaks to the power of social labeling.  Relevant in the late 1970s and to the modern setting, the notion of placing labels on children in society and in schools helps to  create the perceptions of who they are and, in turn, help to define what arc or course their lives will take.  I think that this is something highly relevant and something that is not too surprising to me today.  Labeling is used in the educational setting quite a bit in terms of describing students, and thus placing external expectations on them.  "High achieving" or "gifted" no longer refers to strictly cognitive ability.  It is a "group" or a "cluster" that advocating parents fight to get for their kids.  "At risk" or even "Special Ed" are labels meant to indicate the opposite.  In both labels, expectations are created, similar to the "Saints" and the "Roughnecks."  Consider the words of one town resident in describing the "Roughnecks" in comparison to the so- called "Saints:"

Too bad that these boys couldn't behave like the other kids in town; stay out of trouble, be polite to adults, and look to their futures.

The issue of class- based labeling and the basic premise that certain goods "sow oats" and other kids can't help to "stay out of trouble" are realities that are evident today, which means that Chambliss' revelations are not too surprising to me in their findings.