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ERIC Number: ED517684
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 270
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1240-2345-8
Bolstering Bonds and Building Bridges: Social Capital in Law Student Organizations
Deo, Meera Eknath
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
Although many Americans turn to education as a means of generating social equality, institutions of higher learning themselves remain internally stratified, with students of color often having different experiences and sometimes attaining lower academic outcomes than whites. Law schools are especially notable for their intensely competitive environment and inhospitable campus climate. Research indicates that membership in race/ethnic-specific student organizations may help students of color navigate this hostile environment. My research examines how membership may lead to increased social capital, looking at how various law student organizations provide resources to members. Two distinct lines of thought within social capital literature point toward different outcomes for members. One suggests that members of race/ethnic-specific student organizations share skills, reinforce norms, and support one another to improve outcomes and benefit from bonding social capital through intensifying co-ethnic ties. The other indicates that joining close-knit groups may limit opportunities to network with members of mainstream organizations, reducing cosmopolitan networks available through bridging social capital. My dissertation utilizes a national, longitudinal data set of surveys, focus groups, and interviews with current law students to explore this problem. The central research questions focus on (1) the expectations of law students who join student organizations; and (2) the experiences of law student members of student organizations. I specifically examine similarities and differences by race (i.e., white vs. non-white students) and by organization (i.e., mainstream vs. race/ethnic-specific groups). My findings indicate that members of race/ethnic-specific organizations benefit from a great deal of bonding social capital related to social, cultural, emotional, and academic support; in addition, these groups generate bridging social capital in the form of creating career opportunities through networking. Additionally, though the literature anticipates racial distinctions, these are not borne out in the data; participants in these organizations from all race/ethnic background experience bridging social capital, in the form of shared interests and career promotion, as well as some bonding social capital through social support. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A