Investigating Social Mobility: Cultural Frames and Cultural Frame Switching in First-Generation College Students
Brady, Laura Michelle
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My dissertation examines whether people who move between social classes 1) experience social class biculturalism, and 2) engage in social class cultural frame switching. I explore these questions using first-generation college students (FGs), who move from working-class communities into middle-class universities. Studies 1-2b document social class cultural models of education and explore whether these models change as FGs spend time in the university. Study 1 suggests that working-class and middle-class models of education include both overlapping and diverging components and that FGs’ models may change as they spend time in the university. Studies 2a and 2b examine how these models are embedded within the networks of associations that guide thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors and suggest that differences in working-class and middle-class models may arise from differences in the underlying networks of associations. Collectively, these studies suggest that FGs’ ways of understanding the world may change as they spend time in middle-class universities. Studies 3-5 explore social class cultural frame switching among FGs. Study 3 examines whether the contexts of family and university can be used to prime social class context. Study 4 replicates a previously documented social class difference in cultural models of agency. Finally, Study 5 examines whether priming FGs with family (working-class cultural context) versus university (middle-class cultural context) elicits different cultural models of agency. While further research is needed to understand the experience of social class biculturalism and cultural frame switching, these studies suggest that moving between social classes may involve the internalization of multiple cultural frames.
- Psychology