This Senior Independent Study explores the relationship between socioeconomic status, the level of parents' education and marital status and the effect these variable have on parents' educational aspirations for their children and children's educational aspirations. Literature was chosen that focused on educational aspirations, educational attainment and other possible influential variables. To analyze the existing literature, the broad Reproduction Theory was used, as well as some middle-range theories, the Correspondence Principle of Bowles and Gintis, the Cultural Capital Theory of Bourdieu and Coleman's theory of Social Capital. To collect the data about this topic, case studies of five families were conducted, using participant observation in an after school program and interviews with parents and children in their homes. One parent from each family was interviewed alone with one child between the ages of 8 and 11. Results indicated that socioeconomic status did not have as big of an effect on educational aspirations as was indicated by a considerable amount of prior research, also that parents with high levels of education had high aspirations for their children and had a positive influence on their children's educational aspirations. However, in most of the cases in this study, regardless of parents' education level, parents and children had high aspirations. The data also indicated that the marital status of the parents did not seem to influence children's educational aspirations. Future research is suggested focusing on the differenc in educational aspirations depending on age, especially upon entering high school and throughout, also looking at the various influences of teachers, peers and siblings on educational aspirations.


Holz, Jennifer


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150

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© Copyright 1997 Megan L. McCabe