On the Meaning of Grit…and Hope…and Fate Control…and Alienation…and Locus of Control…and…Self-Efficacy…and…Effort Optimism…and…edit
After a long period of emphasis on academic skills, researchers have recently shown growing interest in the importance of noncognitive skills as drivers of life outcomes for poor children. “Grit” and “hope” are among the more popular focal points in this research. This article argues terms like these are most useful when they are thought of as a part of a cluster of concepts related to the idea of alienation, in the sense of powerlessness. Framing the “new” concepts that way helps connect our thinking to a wider range of empirical work and helps identify important unresolved issues for future research. We also argue the most profitable approaches will be those which help us understand how individual characteristics interact with structural context, avoiding an exclusive emphasis on either individual characteristics or structural contexts.