The Weaponization of Poverty: An Investigation Into United States Military Recruitment Practices in High Schools Of Low-Income Communities in the Inland Empire
Author: Michael Springer-Gould
Claremont Colleges, Scholarship & Pitzer
Military recruitment in the United States is a highly contentious subject that has yielded a multitude of prior research across a variety of academic concentrations. To further the conversation, I narrow my focus to Southern California’s Inland Empire (IE) to explore practices of military recruitment in high schools that serve students in low-income communities. I begin with a general overview of life and labor in the Inland Empire before moving into prior research on military recruitment. My empirical research consists of five in-depth interviews documenting the lived experiences of individuals hailing from and attending high school in low-income communities of the Inland Empire. Conclusions are drawn affirming the presence of targeted military recruitment in low-income high schools of the IE through participation in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), as well as resulting from educational policy that has disproportionately restricted academic curriculum in low-income schools. My analysis further explores connections between labor and military recruitment in the IE before concluding with discussions as to how the military strategically utilizes the cultural structure of the IE to target recruits on a personal level.