Elizabeth Armstrong – Sociology/Organizational Studies, University of Michigan – March 27, 2018

Elizabeth A. Armstrong is a sociologist with research interests in the areas of sexuality, gender, culture, organizations, social movements, and higher education. She is the co-author, with Laura Hamilton, of Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality (2013). Drawing on findings from a five-year interview study, Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton bring us to the campus of “MU,” a flagship Midwestern public university, where we follow a group of women drawn into a culture of status seeking and sororities. Mapping different pathways available to MU students, the authors demonstrate that the most well-resourced and seductive route is a “party pathway” anchored in the Greek system and facilitated by the administration. This pathway exerts influence over the academic and social experiences of all students, and while it benefits the affluent and well-connected, Armstrong and Hamilton make clear how it seriously disadvantages the majority. Eye-opening and provocative, Paying for the Party reveals how outcomes can differ so dramatically for those whom universities enroll.

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