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The Educational Pathways of White Working Class Students

Опубликовано на портале: 19-05-2004
Susan Alexandra Dumais
Научный руководитель: Stanley Lieberson
Организация: Harvard University
Подтип: PhD
Тематические разделы: Социология, Экономическая социология, Экономическая социология: Социально-экономическая дифференциация. Бедность, Социальная стратификация

In this dissertation I examine the educational trajectories of a group that has been neglected in recent educational research: white working-class students. Rather than comparing these students to middle-class students, as has been done in past research, I compare the students by their outcomes, examining the differences between those working-class students who attain high school diplomas only, those who pursue associate's degrees, and those who pursue bachelor's degrees. Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, I examine overall differences between the outcome groups with regard to finances, student achievement, significant other's influence, student engagement, planning and self-esteem, and school characteristics. I then approach the data in a person-centered fashion, drawing upon the students' lives as they develop over time, and finding common pathways for aggregates of students. The students with only high school diplomas are best described as having lives with many adversities. The pathways created for these students highlight a lack of parental involvement in schooling, as well as low student engagement with the school environment. The students who pursue associate's degrees are characterized by a mix of adversities and advantages. For many of these students, the advantages they experience are spread over a number of realms in their lives, while the adversities are concentrated in fewer realms. Their pathways can best be described as compensatory: students' advantages help to compensate for their adversities. Finally, the students enrolled in bachelor's degree programs are also characterized by advantage and adversity. However, the adversities they experience are not as severe as the adversities experienced by the other two groups. The bachelor's degree students are also more likely than the other two outcome groups to have more advantages than adversities, and to have a spread of advantages over different life realms. The students' pathways are characterized primarily by parents with at least a high school education, students' low risk of dropping out of high school, and other advantages, although one pathway does contain adversity. I conclude by discussing the merits and drawbacks of using a person-centered approach, and by suggesting directions for research in social stratification and education.

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