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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cultural Capital and Leadership: Towards a Better Understandinng
by Harris, Gretchen, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2019, 189; 13860121
Abstract (Summary)

This study found that current selective admission practices continue to reflect traditional norms of leadership in which title and prestige of organization are most valued, in part driven by increasing external pressure for quantification which emphasizes higher positions in prestigious or familiar organizations because they are easier to enumerate and are perceived as having higher status.

Professionals in this study were asked a series of questions to identify how leadership could be better defined and measured in their current practices. Eighteen constructs across the three categories of Personal Traits, Interpersonal Skills, and Capacities for Socially Conscious Behaviors were identified as preferred characteristics demonstrating good leadership.

Forms of cultural capital shared by admission officers in this study include having college-educated parents, being raised in a home where college was an expectation, and who had earned at least a bachelor's degree. Further, most had worked as an undergraduate in admission, residence life, orientation, or as a tour guide.

Several of those interviewed questioned if and in what ways their own biases impacted their evaluation of an application. There was a genuine desire to be objective but also to understand the student in her or his own context. This contrasts with Bourdieu, but does agree with Swartz (1997) who posits that habitus can be raised to a conscious level and therefore can be adaptive.

A final emergent finding addressed a gender dynamic in which female staff expressed concern that female students are less likely to explicate their accomplishments compared to male students. Another aspect of this unexpected finding about perceptions of leadership in the office revealed some staff felt adherence to traditional forms of hierarchical leadership minimized or even excluded opportunities for younger staff, particularly female, to share their insights and participate in decision-making.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hossler, Donald
Commitee: Bull, Barry, LePeau, Lucy, McCormick, Alexander
School: Indiana University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Higher education
Keywords: Cultural capital, Leadership, Selective admissions
Publication Number: 13860121
ISBN: 978-1-392-09815-8
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