Bourque, L. (2023). From a Blue-Collar Background: Gender as a Moderator and Attitudes Towards Work and Family as a Mediator on Area of Study Choices. Unc Charlotte Electronic Theses And Dissertations.
Many sociologists attribute inequality to social reproduction, where children repeat their parents' life situations. The influence of a parent’s social background is evident when a child chooses a major or career. However, the literature fails to address why these decisions are made. The current study examines blue-collar and white-collar backgrounds on area of study choices. Additionally, the study examines the interaction of gender and class on major choices. Furthermore, class-based attitudes are transferred to children across generations, influencing their future decisions. The study also examines class-based attitudes as a mediator in the moderated relationship. Finally, cultural capital is transmitted through classes by exhibiting behaviors in conjunction with or against the dominant cultural code. The study examines cultural capital as an additional mediator. Using data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, I ran mediated-moderated, multinomial logistic regression models. In general, parental background does not predict major choices. However, interaction effects show that blue-collar women are more likely than white-collar women to choose Health. Alternatively, gender has a significant effect on every major choice, with men being more likely to choose STEM/Engineering majors over any other. Neither class-based attitudes nor cultural capital mediated the relationship. These results have implications for social reproduction, sociology, and education scholars.