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A First Class Measure: Evidence for a Comprehensive Social Class Scale in Higher Education Populations




Evans, Olivia
McGuffog, Romany
Gendi, Monica
Rubin, Mark

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Springer Netherlands


Despite social class being a burgeoning area of research in the higher education literature, there is no single comprehensive measure of social class in university student populations. Most previous research has included objective single-item measures (e.g., parent education or occupation) to assess social class and then sorted students into distinct social class categories using these items. Such approaches do not adequately capture the complexity and nuance of class, and they ignore the subjective and social components involved. The present paper reports the development and validation of an 11-item Comprehensive Social Class Scale (CSCS) that uses a mix of objective and subjective items to assess multiple aspects of social class, including education level, occupational prestige, family afuence, social class identity and subjective social status. Across 12 samples (N=4926), we provide evidence for a single factor structure of the CSCS and demonstrate aspects of its reliability and validity. We conclude by discussing some limitations and suggestions for use of the CSCS in higher education populations.



Social class, Socioeconomic status, Social status, University students, Working-class students, Higher education



Research in Higher Education


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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License



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