The Sociology of Grit: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Social Stratification of Grit

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Hye Won KWON, University of Iowa, USA
This paper presents a cross-cultural examination of the currently fashionable psychological notion of ‘grit’ and explores its potential for contributing to understanding social stratification, bringing grit into sociological discussion of agency, one of the core tenets of life course studies. Grit, comprising of perseverance and passion towards long-term goals, has received growing attention from academia and the general public as a strong predictor of academic achievement. Yet grit researchers have been less interested in potential antecedences of developing grit and largely centered in a single nation (e.g., the United States). Current scholarship largely fails to consider structural and cultural contexts that may impact grit’s development. Suggesting that grit could work as a “behavioral engine” transforming subjective beliefs about agency (i.e., personal sense of control, the traditional measure) to actual agentic practices that potentially produce better life outcomes, I analyze data from four nations (France, South Korea, Turkey and the U.S.) and provide evidence that grit operates in a fashion useful for understanding stratification. I find individuals who are strong believers of one’s control over life outcomes (i.e. personal sense of control) are more likely to develop grit in four different countries. This finding adds power to the concept of grit as these relationships are found in four distinct nations with distinct cultural orientations of valuing agency. This study provides significant insights into how social structural factors contribute to the development of grit, particularly highlighting the mediating role of the sense of control in four different cultures.