The Pressures of Status Reproduction
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CitationBeljean, Stefan. 2019. The Pressures of Status Reproduction. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation offers a comparative analysis of American and German upper-middle-class teenagers and their schooling and socialization experiences prior to the transition from secondary to post-secondary education. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork conducted in seven secondary schools located in the Greater Boston area and Berlin, including more than 180 interviews with students, the study examines how high-SES youth in the US and Germany prepare for the entry into post-secondary education and construct their adolescent selves as they seek to gain admission to high-status universities or fields of study. The findings of the study bring to light far-reaching differences in the socialization experiences of American and German upper-middle-class adolescents despite their common social class background. While the American system of selective college admissions encourages college-bound adolescents to cultivate a “market self” that is marked by traits such as self-marketing and resume-building, the system of admission to German universities does not have a comparable effect on the self-concept formation of German upper-middle-class teenagers. I argue that these cross-national differences result from differences in the institutional structures that govern university admissions, and higher education more broadly, in the two countries: While the American system of post-secondary education is marked by a strong market orientation, German higher education remains informed by a bureaucratic state logic – despite growing efforts by German policymakers to introduce market-based principles of higher education governance. With these findings, my dissertation provides novel comparative insights into the relationship between educational institutions and class-specific socialization processes and shows how this relationship, in turn, can shape young people’s self-concept formation in distinct ways.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42013067
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