Dr. Elizabeth Lee Giving a Talk at American University

Dr. Elizabeth Lee giving an invited lecture at American University in Washington, DC.

sociologist focused on higher education and inequality 

I do research about people’s day to day experiences of class inequality in higher education. My primary research is with low-income, first-generation, and/or working-class students (LIFGWC) at selective colleges. I also research the experiences of faculty members from LIFGWC backgrounds. My work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Spencer Foundation.

My book Geographies of Campus Inequality: Mapping the Diverse Experiences of First-Generation Students, co-authored with Janel Benson, examines intersectional dynamics of race, gender, and class. Drawing on both the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen and qualitative interviews with 64 first-generation students at one case-study campus, our analysis shows how students are sorted (and sort themselves) into different campus geographies. Students are exposed to peers with different social habits and orientations to academic life, and gather different types of resources for use during and after college. We argue that campuses need to develop more nuanced understandings of first-generation students, in particular around race and gender intersectionality. Geographies was published by Oxford University Press in 2020. 

My first book Class and Campus Life: Managing and Experiencing Inequality at an Elite College, about low-income, working-class, and first-generation students’ experiences at an elite women’s college was published by Cornell University Press in 2016. Read a short interview about the book here. You can read a review of the book, published in Contemporary Sociology, here.

Additional areas of research interest include race/class/gender intersections, LGBQ student campus life, and cultural capital. My work in these areas includes a co-edited volume of new qualitative research on ways that college students’ race, class, gender, sexuality and immigration statuses shape their experiences on campus, College Students’ Experiences of Power and Marginality: Sharing Spaces and Negotiating Differences, published by Routledge Press (2015). 



Oxford University Press
August 2020

Class and Campus Life: Managing and Experiencing Inequality at an elite college