First Advisor

Tessa Dover

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors






Stigma (Social psychology), Social marginality, Adolescence, Social status, Social classes




I examine how stigma associated with socioeconomic status (SES), or social class, has the potential to negatively impact individuals during adolescence. Specifically, I focus on the impact of class stigma, and the institutional barriers faced by adolescents as they prepare for adulthood. These barriers and the stress felt due to both stigmatization, and environmental stimuli specifically pertaining to low-income neighborhoods/environments, can hinder or alter the development of the four major domains of development: physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. Stigmatization has resulted in physically and socially isolating low-income communities from middle- or high-income communities, hindering social mobility for L-SES adolescents. Social class is not entirely based on meritocracy, but rather on social connections to the financially prosperous, and preventing L-SES individuals’ access to social and cultural capital will help in perpetuating generational poverty cycles in low-income communities. I infer necessary radical reformation in the welfare system, and in public education on issues specifically pertaining to L-SES individuals. Doing so has the potential to change public opinion, redistribute wealth to those in need, and provide better futures to both L-SES adolescents and younger developing L-SES children. I hypothesize that the stigma of poverty is one of the driving forces behind the lack of resources for those in need, not one's "ability to achieve" in a meritocracy. It is important to give resources to working class adolescents to achieve equity, not just equality; this is the way to increase social mobility and break the cycle of poverty.


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