In the era of both unprecedented access to information and unbridled economic inequality, what challenges do low-income communities of color face in a search for upward mobility? Using data from 87 interviews with Black and Brown jobseekers, the American Communities Survey and 18 months of participant observation in Inglewood, California I expose how particular information, or what I call “mobility knowledge”, accelerates or limits social mobility. These data reveal how schools, government, and social media obscure viable opportunities for advancement into the middle class by passing along dangerous misinformation to communities of color about social mobility and the labor market. This misinformation results in dangerous neoliberal logics from disadvantaged jobseekers. While information gaps are often framed by economists, this work socializes these accounts, shedding light on social mobility barriers in the era of “fake news.”
Jasmine D. Hill is a sociologist whose scholarship explores both the causes and consequences of social mobility for Black Americans. Her scholarship and teaching interrogate the intersections of inequality, racism, class, and culture. Jasmine’s scholarship has appeared in Social Problems, The Journal of Cultural Economy, and in 2017 she co-edited Inequality in the 21st Century with David B. Grusky (Westview Press). She’s also authored several influential research briefs for policymakers, surveying topics like race, intimate partner violence, and tactics to eliminate extreme poverty. Her scholarly contributions have been recognized by the American Sociological Association, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the Stanford Center for the Comparative Study of Race & Ethnicity.