Extending the Field of College Access: A Critical Ethnography on the Organizational Habitus of College-going in an Urban Catholic High School




Rodriguez, Paul Joseph

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Through a critical ethnographic methodology, this dissertation study utilizes a P-20 lens in analyzing the organizational habitus of college-going in an urban Catholic high school in South Texas. The primary theoretical framework of this study is Bourdieuian Social Reproduction Theory, which supports the study's impetus to demonstrate how school culture can influence underrepresented students' outlook on various structures of opportunity, specifically those related to access to postsecondary institutions. One research question that will guide the study is as follows: 1.) What are the characteristics of the organizational habitus of college going in an urban Catholic high school that influence who goes to college and who goes where? The findings of this study suggest that college-going cultures, in part, inculcate particular ideologies into students that profoundly influence the college choice process. Thus, this study concludes that certain ideologies may compromise the overall fit between a student and a particular institution. As such, the implications of this study encourage that practices at both the secondary and postsecondary level must clearly articulate the social, academic, and financial components of the college-going process to students and families.


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Catholic schools, college-going, critical ethnography, critical theory, organizational habitus, social reproduction theory



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies