Dissertation Abstracts

Family and Education: First-Generation Students Admitted to University

Author: Haisraeli, Adam AH, adamh9600@gmail.com
Department: School of Education
University: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Supervisor: Prof. Edna Lomsky-Feder
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Hebrew

Keywords: Higher Education , Cultural Capital , Immigration , Family
Areas of Research: Education , Family Research , Migration


The present study is concerned with university-bound first-generation postsecondary students from a disadvantaged group in Israel. While much of the literature examines the family mainly as an intergenerational reproductive mechanism with respect to higher education, few studies have looked at the way in which parents and the family break out of the cycle of dispersed transmission of educational inequality. The present study's point of departure is that research on "first-generation" students attending higher education may provide a different viewpoint on the connection between family and higher education. The main research question is the following: What factors in their families enabled these students to break through and follow the path that had been blocked for their parents? How did they make it to university?

The study uses a theoretical framework that is based on Bourdieu's conceptualization of types of capital and the class parenting styles described by Annette Lareau. This is a qualitative study that is based on in-depth interviews with 25 students aged 19-29 from a disadvantaged group in Israeli society.

The main findings point to intensive boundary work that is done by the parents in order to distinguish their families both from previous generations ("vertical" boundary) and from members of the extended family of their generation ("horizontal" boundary). The parents employ a variety of day-to-day practices, including setting a personal example of the values of a work ethic and the importance of education; exemplifying the cost of reaching maturity without higher education; and posing high learning expectations, empowerment, and social consciousness.

The concluding discussion points to the emergence of a new parenting style. This new style is similar in its aspirations and practices to that of middle-class parents, but must contend with the absence of suitable cultural and social capital and in the face of financial constraints.