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Uncovering the Virtuosities of Social Class: Family, Habitus and Postsecondary Affordability

  • Author(s): Calderone, Shannon Marie;
  • Advisor(s): McDonough, Patricia M;
  • et al.

This dissertation project focuses on the virtuosities of class in the navigation of the college affordability decision-making process for high and low-income families. Virtuosities, according to Bourdieu, represent the composite talents and skills of class practice. And it is through these “virtuosities” that we come to express our class identities. In this comparative study of fourteen high-income families and sixteen low-income families, two discrete class-based patterns of college affordability practice are identified: the high-income practice of parental managerialism and the low-income practice of parental proximal support. These two forms of family labor organization form a classed practice representing the structuring frameworks from which high and low-income families determine what is possible in their navigation of the college affordability pathway. Importantly, these practices work in complement and contradiction to current affordability policy and practice. It is these complementary and contradictory effects that ultimately lend to the structuring of advantage for high-income families and disadvantage for low-income families.

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