Class and the cultural styles applicants present to gatekeepers
Cultural matching theory holds that class reproduction occurs when individuals from different class origins present different cultural styles to gatekeepers, who in turn select advantaged individuals based upon their styles. This theory also suggests that class reproduction will be disrupted if individuals from different origins present gatekeepers with the same styles. We investigate whether this is possible by examining a case in which similarities are particularly likely to occur: a situation in which public instructions give applicants from each class common information about what styles gatekeepers reward, gatekeepers select among applicants from each class who share access to similar styles, and applicants are likely to use the same styles as they are given time to strategize and need only present each style superficially. Drawing upon a content analysis of over 1,000 randomly selected applications that were written under these conditions, we find that individuals from different class origins present several similar styles but that differences remain. We conclude that the simultaneous presence of these conditions is unlikely to block class reproduction by erasing cultural differences.
Streib, J; Rochmes, J; Arriaga, F; Tavares, C; Weed, E
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