The social success skills valued and ultimately acquired by youth during their formative years can be better understood by examining the social spaces, processes, and interactions that are related to their personal aspirations and related media experiences. Using a phenomenological approach, I conducted a year-long multi-case study about two Black male high school students’ thoughts on social success, their aspirations, their social experiences, and their experiences with media. The participants were selected using purposeful sampling. I collected data through semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and observations. I performed analyses by using the hermeneutic cycle which requires one to repeatedly read text, write reflections, and interpret data (Kafle, 2011; Laverty, 2008). Findings suggest that my participants’ aspirations held influence over the type of media content with which they chose to engage. Additionally, their thoughts about social success were influenced by their family members’ personal life experiences and the skills their family members valued. Moreover, their sociocultural contexts influenced their evolving thoughts on social success while their media served as resources to help them process their thoughts about social success and help them pursue their goals.


Media, Success, Social Success, Social Instruction, Youth, Social Success Skills, Teen, Case Study, Phenomenological, Phenomenology

Author Bio(s)

Darnel Degand, Ed.D.has developed curricula, taught courses, and led workshops for corporate clients, nonprofit organizations, middle school, and high school students. He has also taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at the City University of New York, Vaughn College of Aeronautics, and Columbia University. His research interests include social success skills, educational games, interactive narratives, and culturally relevant media production. Additionally, he is also an experienced multimedia developer. Darnel is currently a Technical Development Manager at Sizmek, an online advertising company based in New York. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Darnel Degand at darnel@darneldegand.com

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