Date of Thesis

Spring 2020


Social identity development, the process by which people come to understand their social identities, has been written about extensively in regards to diverse populations. Currently, theories revolve around ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, and other aspects of the human experience. There is, however, an obvious gap in theoretical work involving social class identity development. Specifically, this thesis will examine working class identity development. The goal is to provide a foundation for studying the ways in which members of the working class both understand and come to terms with their position in society. Building on crucial identity development theory, data will be examined under the modified lens of William Cross, Jr. and Peony Fhagen-Smith’s model of Black identity development, which elaborates on the ways in which individuals experience successive processes of encounter, immersion-emersion, and internalization. It is hoped that this thesis will inform future studies of identity development across various social classes.


identity development, field theory, social capital, social identity theory

Access Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Science in Education



Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration

Education - College Student Personnel

First Advisor

Joseph L. Murray