The Achievement Gap, Social
Capital and Mobility: An Overview
To the extent that current theoretical frameworks prove
unequal to the task of dealing with some of the newly
emerging key questions, there develops a pressure within the
discipline for new or revised frameworks.
— Robert K. Merton, Three Fragments from a Sociologist's
Given the magnitude and persistence of an achievement gap that our society has direct interest in eliminating, it comes as no surprise that scholars across various disciplines have deployed or developed a wide range of theories to help explain this phenomenon. From the explicit ways that parents invest knowledge and talent into their children's skill-development, to the implicit means by which governmental institutions sometimes reproduce educational inequalities, and from the manner in which culture shapes educational tastes across social classes, to the stereotypes that threaten success in any domain where such stereotypes are prevalent, the continuing saga of educational inequality has stimulated an ecumenical body of research over the past four decades. The arc of this work has encouraged a growing interest in social networks and the ways that person-to-person interaction directly facilitates and/or obstructs the capacity for people to utilize the resources that can be made available through their social relationships. By linking the emergent literature on social capital (arguably the most influential concept to emerge from economic sociology in the last decade) with research on residential and student mobility, I attempt to show that Mexican American underachievement does depend in part upon the network instability that accompanies high rates of student transience. While there is as yet no specific body of work that might be categorized as mobility theory per se, studies focusing on the incidence, consequences, and causes of mobility are also discussed in