Term of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Ted Brimeyer

Committee Member 1

Pidi Zhang

Committee Member 2

Eric Silva


This study draws from extant literature on social attainment to examine what factors affect the attaining of higher incomes, education, and occupational ranks. Research on five distinct factors is examined and analyzed using a sample of about 6,000 students from a national longitudinal study across the United States between 1988-2000 as they transitioned from eight grade through high school and into the labor force: (1) background characteristics: household type, race, and gender, (2) social capital, (3) cultural capital, (4) academic ability, and (5) parental social class. The results revealed that these factors affect social attainment. I also examined if parental socio-economic status interacts with other factors. The results of the study showed that the gap between rich and poor has grown over the last 30 years. The rich are getting further ahead in the race for social attainment.

Research Data and Supplementary Material