Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


“Nice is Not Enough: Youth, Inequality and Schooling”

Dr. CJ Pascoe
CJ Pascoe
University of Oregon
Miller Learning Center, Room 348
Special Information:
Sponsored by: Sociology Graduate Student Society

This talk tells the story of American High, a school characterized by acceptance, connection, and kindness. But it’s also a place where race, class, gender and sexual inequalities are narrowly understood as problems of individual merit, meanness, effort, or emotion rather than systemic issues requiring deeper intervention. At American High, messages about love and kindness allow folks to avoid addressing these issues, ones often labeled as “political.” Students suggest that racial inequality is sugarcoated as part of a larger project of benign diversity in which love and kindness are deployed to solve the problem of racial inequality. Raced, classed and gendered privilege intersect in the production of a student citizen, a production in which privilege gets disguised as merit and obfuscated by an ideology of tolerance. Specifically, this talk will address the way that girls are left to navigate edicts of kindness as they embrace a girl power feminism, a sort of gendered resilience with which they confront a daily onslaught of sexist harassment. Taken together these stories highlight the tenacity of inequality by highlighting the way that systemic problems are made to look like individual ones, even in organizations characterized by inclusivity, kindness and acceptance.

Sponsored by: Sociology Graduate Student Society

Dr. CJ Pascoe is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon where she teaches courses on sexuality, educaiton, social psychology, and inequality. Her current research focuses on youth, inequality and education. She is also a co-editor of the academic journal Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World.

Dr. Pascoe's new book, Nice is Not Enough: Inequality and the Limits of Kindness at American High tells the story of American High School, a school characterized by acceptance, connection, and kindness—a school where, a prominent sign states, “there is no room for hate.” This book describes how American High, like many high schools, uses a “regime of kindness” to address persistent inequalities. By examining how this regime of kindness works at American High Nice is Not Enough shows the limits of this approach and suggests ways we might begin to dismantle systemic inequalities in high school and beyond. 

Dr. Pascoe lectures widely to academic and public audiences on contemporary issues facing young people and schools such as bullying, harassment, gender inequality, and homophobia. Dr. Pascoe's research has been featured in documentaries and media outlets such as Frontline, National Public Radio, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Toronto Globe and Mail and Le Monde.  She has also worked with and advised various organizations such as The Born This Way Foundation, True Child, and The Gay/Straight Alliance Network to translate academic research into policy and programming for young people.

Departmental Host or Contact:
Type of Event: