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Detailed family histories were taken of students who were the first in their families to go to college. This paper utilizes the psychoanalytic and family systems theory of Helm Stierlin and others to explore (1) how college matriculation for first-generation students is linked to multi-generational family dynamics, and (2) how these students reconcile (or do not reconcile) the often conflicting requirements of family membership and educational mobility. The same modernity that creates the possibility of opportunity for these students is seen also to create the potential for biographical and social dislocation.

Original Citation

London, H. (1989). Breaking Away: A Study of First Generation College Students and Their Families. American Journal of Education 97(2), 144-170.