Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Job search patterns of college graduates: The role of social capital
by Coonfield, Emily S., Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2012, 180; 3545590
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation addresses job search patterns of college graduates and the implications of social capital by race and class. The purpose of this study is to explore (1) how the job search transpires for recent college graduates, (2) how potential social networks in a higher educational context, like KU, may make a difference for students with lower social status, and (3) how race and class structure social networks and influence job search patterns. The data for this study is based on KU graduates from 2000 to 2011, who came to KU from high schools across Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Existing literature on occupational attainment addresses the effects of educational credentials on success in the labor market. Insights from the sociology of organizations and work suggest that while education is important to occupational attainment, networks can be just as important, if not more important than credentials. Variation in credentials is considered particularly significant in accounting for differences in occupational mobility and stratification. However, the effect of educational background on the job search and occupational attainment is likely to be contingent on social network ties, or social capital.

By integrating qualitative interviews with quantitative data, this study sheds new light on the role of social capital in the job search, revealing that race and class largely determine how college graduates utilize their credentials and connections in the job search.

Key findings from this research indicate that the utility of educational credentials depends largely on social capital, suggesting that (1) social capital facilitates the job search; (2) the use of social capital varies because some graduates utilize networks to find jobs, while others do not; (3) students from higher social status backgrounds depend on and utilize social capital to a greater extent than those from lower social status backgrounds; and (4) students with higher social status enjoy the benefits of social capital to the extent that in many cases their college degree and job need not be consistent.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Saatcioglu, Argun
Commitee: Hill, Shirley, Ng, Jennifer, Rury, John, Twombly, Susan
School: University of Kansas
Department: Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: DAI-A 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational sociology, Education Policy, Higher education
Keywords: College to work transition, Higher education policy, Job search, Race and class inequality in education, Social capital and education
Publication Number: 3545590
ISBN: 978-1-267-78216-8
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