Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Daisy Rooks

Commitee Members

Kathy Kuipers, Adrea Lawrence


education, habitus, hidden curriculum, cultural capital, habitus dislocation


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Educational Sociology | Inequality and Stratification | Sociology of Culture


In this thesis, I examine the experiences of low-income and first generation college students who are enrolled members of the TRiO Student Support Program at the University of Montana. This program is designed to cater to the specific academic struggles of low-income and first generation college students. There is a wealth of scholarly literature concerning this population of students and their risk of dropping out of college. Researchers have found these students are susceptible to habitus dislocation, which causes many of these students to feel torn between acclimating to college and forfeiting their membership in the working-class. One of the main contributors to habitus dislocation is campus authority figures’ use of the hidden curriculum. This type of unconscious instruction teaches disadvantaged students how to “fit in” at college by adopting middle-class values and habits. Much of the research on the hidden curriculum is focused on the K-12 experience. In this study, I use qualitative data to assess how the TRiO program imparts the hidden curriculum to low-income and first generation college students. How does the program help low-income and first generation college students succeed in college? In what ways does the TRiO staff help TRiO students overcome habitus dislocation? Can the hidden curriculum actually benefit these students? The findings of this study indicate that some components of the TRiO program cause students to experience habitus dislocation, which in turn causes students to academically disengage from their instructors. Even though TRiO is designed to help low-income and first generation college students throughout their academic careers, the TRiO instructors’ use of the hidden curriculum exacerbates some of their students’ habitus dislocation.



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