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First-Generation Low-Income (FGLI) US Black College Women’s Social Capital
AuthorHarvey , Sheena Rose
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Black college students’ social engagement navigation in higher education is met with challenges at many colleges and universities. Students from racial minority backgrounds and low-income families face a disparity in social capital gain during their enrollment at higher education institutions. This reality has led to constant reproduction of social difficulty for first-generation low-income Black students that are enrolled in higher education. The first-generation low-income (FGLI) US Black college women in this study overcame many obstacles to obtain their self-developed social networks and individual connections to the four-year public predominately White institution (PWI) they attended. This study explored ten FGLI US Black college women perspectives on bridging and bonding social capital while participating in collegiate fitness programs at a predominately White Institution (PWI). The participants identified social networks within collegiate fitness programs and on campus as whole and discussed how their race, gender and social class intersected in those. The study participants’ race, gender, and social class shaped their engagement experiences in higher education and their opportunities to connect with peers who shared similar interests and valued identities. Utilization of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Social Capital Theory as theoretical frameworks to investigate the participants’ networks, relationships, community, educational outcomes, brought to light campus structural inequality, power dynamics, and experiences of marginalization, coupled with calls for social justice. The findings of this study indicated that study participant’s racial, gender, and social class status did result in racial and gendered experiences in campus fitness programs and on campus as a whole. Study participants found solace in campus support programs and with their peer support groups. Implications for post-secondary administrators and professors are discussed.