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Social Class Differences in Social Integration at University: Implications for Academic Outcomes and Mental Health

Abstract

University represents a pathway to upward social mobility for many working-class people. However, this distinctly middle-class environment also provides a number of unique social psychological challenges for working-class students. Working-class university students are often in the minority group at university, they are often the first in their families to attend university, and they often feel out of place at university. They also lack the time and money required to engage with other students on campus. Consequently, they are less likely to be as integrated into social life at university as their middle-class peers. In this chapter, we consider the potential implications of this lack of social integration for working-class students’ academic outcomes and mental health. In particular, we review recent research that shows that working-class students’ lack of integration at university is associated with poorer academic outcomes and poorer mental health. We conclude with a discussion of potential interventions to increase working-class students’ social integration at university.

Keywords

  • Academic performance
  • Low SES students
  • Mental health
  • Social class
  • Social integration
  • University students
  • Working-class students

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The concept of working class is associated with a variety of different labels, including low SES, low social status, underprivilege, disadvantage, low income, and first-generation students at university (for a review, see Smith, 2005). In this chapter, we use the term working class as a convenient and relatively inclusive label. We acknowledge that alternative terms are somewhat interchangeable but that each also has a distinct meaning.

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Rubin, M., Evans, O., McGuffog, R. (2019). Social Class Differences in Social Integration at University: Implications for Academic Outcomes and Mental Health. In: Jetten, J., Peters, K. (eds) The Social Psychology of Inequality. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-28856-3_6

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