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Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities have been of interest to sociologists since James Coleman's The Adolescent Society, in which he posited that peer acceptance is central in adolescent culture, and academic success represents only one avenue to acceptance. Drawing on Coleman's insights, sociologists focus on extracurricular activities as a route to peer acceptance and causal influence on youth behavior. They find that participation in school and community-based extracurricular activities—sports, arts, student government, volunteering, academic clubs—promotes youth development, including positive emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes, yet opportunities to participate are not equally distributed among adolescents.

Because extracurricular offerings are contingent upon funding, there is inequality in students' access to participation, which contributes to socioeconomic gaps in social and academic outcomes. Explanations for the positive (and sometimes negative) effects of extracurricular ...

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