Date

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

Sociology

First Adviser

Johnson, Heather B.

Other advisers/committee members

Zhang, Yuping; Munson, Ziad

Abstract

How do first-generation college students activate, manage, and accumulate cultural and social capital while negotiating their marginal identities in an elite university? This thesis analyzes students’ capital acquisition through college experiences in a context of elite education that offers the unspoken promise of social mobility. Interviews were conducted with three cohorts of first-generation college students—first-year students, second- through four-year students, and degree holders—to determine how marginalized identities were negotiated at differing phases of college and beyond. In addition, quantitative data analysis of the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) of 2003-2009 connects the interview data to the large scale processes occurring in elite universities across the United States. Social capital, including such experiences as student study groups, meetings with faculty, appointments with staff, and mentoring relationships, are explored to understand the impacts that these forms of social capital have on educational transitions and the persistence of social (im)mobility.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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