NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED532786
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 209
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-2366-9
Class Matters: The Experiences of Female College Students in a Greek-Letter Organization
Ryan, Helen-Grace
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University
This qualitative study documents the experiences of 15 women from different social class backgrounds who are members of a women's fraternity/sorority at a large, public, institution located in an urban area in the Mid-West. The purpose of the study was to better understand the relationship between social class and the nature and impact of the sorority experience as interpreted by the women themselves. The main research questions were: (a) Do the experiences of women participating in self-perpetuating student organizations vary depending on their social class? (b) What does social class mean to the students? For example, are traditional markers of class such as high levels of family income, parental education, and appreciation for such aesthetic qualities as fine art and cuisine understood and valued by these women? Or are other indicators such as students' consumption patterns more meaningful? (c) Does this self-perpetuating student organization confer social and/or cultural capital to its members? (d) Does social class affect what they do and think about themselves and others? Major findings include: the women participants did not consider social class or social status to be a significant factor in terms of the nature or quality of their experiences with this organization or that of other women in the Greek organization. Membership in the organization was found to perpetuate social class standing and social class reproduction, and provide social insulation within the larger campus community. Members also described numerous opportunities to gain social capital through membership while cultural capital was not indicated as a benefit. The women interpreted social class through material goods and could articulate the experiences of upper and upper-middle class students while experiences of other students for lower economic echelons were invisible. Other findings include the following: the chapter was not diverse from an economic standpoint, with less than 10% of the chapter coming from lower middle or middle class backgrounds; participation in the Greek letter organization perpetuates social class; membership insulates the women from other, more diverse students on campus, and that the women are unaware of the privilege they have as members of the upper and upper-middle class. Implications for research and practice are discussed. [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:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A