Graduation Year

2019

Date of Submission

12-2018

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Government

Reader 1

Jon A. Shields

Abstract

In order to investigate the validity of the claim that college has a liberalizing effect on students, the research reported here focuses on how transitions into college shape one’s political orientations. Studying the changes in ideological views and party identification over time have been explained in previous literature by three theories: Life Cycle Changes, Socialization Effects, and Generational Effects. These theories were then applied to the qualitative data obtained by conducting interviews with Claremont McKenna College (CMC) alumni of the last five years. Through analyzing data from CMC’s (millennial) alumni, my goal was to examine the development of their ideological views and party identifications during their four years at CMC and upon entering the workforce. My study is loosely inspired by the Bennington Studies, a well-known group of studies conducted throughout a span fifty years which measured the party identification of Bennington College alumni at three different points in their adult lives. Using these studies as a model, my study expands on these along with other existing literature to provide a more in-depth account of the political identification and potential political shift of the current generation of young adults, Millennials. Due to the temporal limitations of this thesis, however, the study I conducted only examines the identifications of a specific alumnus at one point in their adult lives, after graduating from CMC. Therefore, the possibility of accrediting party identification changes to Life Cycle Changes is excluded. This thesis seeks to explain why and how the political ideology and party identifications of recent CMC alumni changed during their time on campus.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.

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