Impacts of Cultural Capital and Economic Capital on Student College Choice Process in China

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Gao, Lan
Klees, Steve
Lin, Jing
The world economy is changing, as knowledge becomes the key source of development. Knowledge is getting more important, and so is higher education. At a time in which higher education has never been more meaningful to the individual and society, providing access to higher education regardless of a family's socioeconomic status has become a primary concern in many countries. Bourdieu's cultural capital theory posits that cultural capital is the property that middle and upper class families transmit to their offspring, which supplements the transmission of economic capital as a means of maintaining class status and privileges across generations. Extensive empirical research has supported cultural capital theory by demonstrating the significant role that cultural knowledge and family values play on educational attainment and the consequent economic and social status. In higher education, college access research has also shown that students' college choice is largely dependent on a family's cultural capital and financial ability to pay. Drawing on cultural capital theory, this study aims at analyzing how students' college choice process varies by social class in China. By exploring different cultural and financial factors that influence different stages of students' college choice process, this study hopes to contribute to identifying the most appropriate policies and practices for raising the representation of students from the lowest social class among college participants.