Applying Bourdieu's Conceptualization of Family Capital to our Understanding of Young Adults life outcomes: Educational Achievement and Economic Well-being
Waithaka, Eric N.
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University of Washington Abstract Applying Bourdieu's Conceptualization of Family Capital to our Understanding of Young Adults life outcomes: Educational Achievement and Economic Well-being Eric Ngugi Waithaka Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Associate Professor Gunnar Almgren School of Social Work The achievement of the traditional milestones associated with adulthood within the current cohort of young adults appears to differ by social class backgrounds, and these differences may be growing due to the differential support of natal families. However, existing research and theory that looks at intergenerational social mobility does not fully examine the multi-dimensional aspect of family resources (capital) and how this capital is deployed during transitions to adulthood for contemporary young adults. Therefore, building on the work of Pierre Bourdieu (1986) conceptualization on the forms of family capital, this dissertation uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey for Youth 1997 (NLSY97) and a series of three independent but interrelated papers to examine the relative effects of distinct forms of family capital on young adults' life outcomes, particularly in education achievement and economic well-being. Chapter 2's main objective is to address the measurement challenges in Bourdieu's framework by identifying the underlying structural factors that constitute the key dimensions of the latent family capital construct. The paper uses 15 select indicators of family resources and processes measures and an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to identify a four factor model. The 1st Factor seems to constitute measures that suggest Parental Involvement, the 2nd Factor seems to capture measures of Social Economic Status (SES) of families, the 3rd Factor seems to constitute measures that suggest Social Networks and the 4th Factor appears to capture Closeness to Parental Figures. Chapter 3 examines how the relative effects of these distinct forms of family capital on educational attainment of young adults using Ordinal Logistic regressions. The major finding in the analysis suggested that the different dimensions of the latent family capital construct are a promising and adequate measure, even with the addition of other controls. However, the different dimensions of the latent family capital construct influence educational achievement differently. While Family Involvement and SES are positively associated with higher levels of educational achievement throughout the different models estimated, Social Networks and Closeness-to-Parental Figures are significantly associated with educational achievement only with inclusion of certain controls, namely, the traditional milestones associated with adulthood. Chapter 4 examines the relative effects of the distinct forms of family capital on young adults' economic well-being, when measured using debt holding and home ownership at age 25 and uses Ordinal Least Square regressions and Binary regressions. The major finding suggests that the different dimensions of the latent family capital construct are not adequate in predicting age 25 economic well-being of young adults, except for the SES dimension on age-25 debt due to a suppressor effect of the educational attainment controls. Discussion of these findings and potential areas of future research and policy/program practice are discussed.