“Trajectories of Mexican Migrant Students in Higher Education in Los Angeles”
Supervisor: Prof. Dra. Elaine Levine Leiter (UNAM)
My research project focuses on analyzing those educational paths that allow young Mexican migrants to gain access to higher education in the United States and to obtain a college degree. Particular attention is paid to Los Angeles, which has the highest concentration of Mexican nationals of any city outside of Mexico.
In view of the precarious conditions for Mexican immigrants in the United States and the frequently absent starting conditions required for educational success, this project seeks to identify the social actors that are critical for the transmission and adoption of the necessary cultural and social capital for Mexican immigrants who want to attain post-secondary education in the United States.
Macro- and micro sociological perspectives inform the study’s theoretical foundation. Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social reproduction, in particular, provides an analytical framework that makes it possible to analyze social structures that allow for a certain degree of social immobility over an extended period of time such as schools, the primary focus of my research. In the case of the United States, it is further necessary understand the country’s social structure regarding issues such as race and migration background.
At the micro level, my theoretical approach centers on the social agenda to analyze how different social actors are able to transform the social reality by positively influencing rigid social structures.
The research accordingly hypothesizes that the possibilities that are open to young Mexican migrants to gain access to social and cultural capital directly depends on the degree to which they are able to interact with their social partners in the educational environment (teachers, students, activists, members of the Mexican community, etc.), which consequently has a positive impact on their individual learning paths.