Blake Silver

Blake Silver

Blake Silver

Associate Professor

Higher education; inequality and mobility; culture; race, class, and gender; parent and family involvement in education; transition to adulthood; research methods; second-generation immigrant students

Blake R. Silver is Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Director of Educational Pathways & Faculty Development in the Honors College. He also serves as the Director of the Education & Health Research Hub in the Center for Social Science Research.

Dr. Silver received a PhD in sociology from the University of Virginia, where he was a Jefferson Fellow. His research focuses on culture, social stratification, and higher education, addressing questions about the role of colleges and universities in contesting and reproducing inequality.

His current projects examine college students' educational pathways, the senior-year transitions of second-generation immigrant students, and campus art and architecture. His research has been supported by the American Sociological Association, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, ACPA-College Student Educators International, the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, and the NASPA Foundation.

Dr. Silver's first book, The Cost of Inclusion: How Student Conformity Leads to Inequality on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press), explores how inequalities are reproduced as students pursue social inclusion on campus.

His forthcoming co-edited volume with Graziella Pagliarulo McCarron, Supporting College Students of Immigrant Origin: New Insights from Research, Policy, and Practice (Cambridge University Press), will be published in spring 2024.

Dr. Silver's second book, Degrees of Risk: Navigating Insecurity and Inequality in Public Higher Education (University of Chicago Press), is forthcoming in summer 2024. This book argues that students at public colleges and universities today confront rampant insecurity, amplified by common policies and practices employed by those institutions. Students encounter and manage this insecurity in very different ways, intensifying inequality at the intersections of socioeconomic status, race, gender, and other sociodemographic dimensions.

Selected Publications

Recent Articles and Book Chapters:

Silver, Blake R. 2024. “Understanding the Individual in Context: Socioeconomic Inequality in College Students’ Perspectives.” Social Currents, 11(1), 61-79.

Farago, Fanni, and Blake R. Silver. 2023. “Navigating the New University: How Students from Immigrant Families Experience Student-Faculty Interactions.” In Teniell Trolian and Eugene Parker, Eds. Fostering Sustained Student-Faculty Engagement in Undergraduate Education, p. 128-145. New York: Routledge.

Silver, Blake R. 2023. “Interpreting First-Generation Identities and Experiences: Exploring Student Meaning Making at a First-gen Forward Institution.” Journal of First-generation Student Success, 3(2), 106-123.

Silver, Blake R., and Lily Krietzberg. 2023. “Compartmentalizing Communities or Creating Continuity: How Students Navigate LGBQ+ Identity Within and Beyond College.” Sociological Focus, 56(1), 1-19.

Silver, Blake R., Freddy Lopez, Fanni Farago, and Tharuna Kalaivanan. 2022. “Focused, Exploratory, or Vigilant: Reproduction, Mobility, and the Self-Narratives of Second-Generation Immigrant Youth.” Qualitative Sociology, 45(1), 123-147.

Roksa, Josipa, Blake R. Silver, and Yapeng Wang. 2022. “Inequality in Higher Education: Sociological Understandings of Student Success.” In Nicholas Bowman, Ed. How College Students Succeed: Making Meaning Across Disciplinary Perspectives, p. 179-207. Stylus.

Kalaivanan, Tharuna, Lily Krietzberg, Blake R. Silver, and Bianca Kwan. 2022. “The Senior-Year Transition: Gendered Experiences of Second-Generation Immigrant College Students.” Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education, 15(1), 21-40.

Roksa, Josipa, and Blake R. Silver. 2021. “Higher Education.” In Kimberley Kinsley and Robert Rycroft, Eds. Inequality in America: Causes and Consequences, p. 95-106. Greenwood, ABC-CLIO.

Silver, Blake R., Lily Krietzberg, and Tharuna Kalaivanan. 2021. “Transitioning OUT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer Students’ Concerns in the Senior Year.” Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 33(2), 9-27.

Silver, Blake R., Freddy Lopez, Tharuna Kalaivanan, and Lily Krietzberg. 2021. “Second-Generation Immigrant Students and the Senior-Year Transition.” Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 58(4), 388-400.

Silver, Blake R. 2020. “Inequality in the Extracurriculum: How Class, Race, and Gender Shape College Involvement.” Sociological Forum, 35(4), 1290-1314.

Silver, Blake R. 2020. “How First-Year College Women Construct Identity through Co-Curricular Involvement.” Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education, 13(3), 233-250.

Henderson, Lora, Blake R. Silver, Leslie Booren, Sara Rimm-Kaufman, and James Wyckoff. 2020. “Fostering Faculty Diversity by Supporting Access to Graduate Study in Education.” Journal of College Student Development, 61(5) 663-666.

Silver, Blake R., Tharuna Kalaivanan, Lily Krietzberg, and Jordan Hawkins. 2020. “Distance, Alignment, and Boundaries: How Second-Generation Immigrant Seniors Negotiate Parental Involvement.” Journal of College Student Development, 61(5) 558-573.

Roksa, Josipa, Blake R. Silver, Denise Deutschlander, and Sarah Whitley. 2020. “Navigating the First Year of College: Siblings, Parents, and First-Generation Students’ Experiences.” Sociological Forum, 35(3) 565-586.

Silver, Blake R. 2020. “On the Margins of College Life: The Experiences of Racial and Ethnic Minority Men in the Extracurriculum.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 49(2): 147-175.

Silver, Blake R. 2020. “Social Class and Habitus at the End of College: Cultural Similarity and Difference among Graduating Seniors.” Sociological Focus, 53(2): 190-206.

Roksa, Josipa, and Blake R. Silver. 2019. “‘Do-It-Yourself’ University: Institutional and Family Support in the Transition Out of College.” Review of Higher Education, 42(3): 1051-1071.

Arum, Richard, Josipa Roksa, Jacqueline Cruz, and Blake R. Silver. 2018. "Student Experiences in College." In Barbara Schneider (Ed.), Handbook of the Sociology of Education in the 21st Century, pp. 385-403. Springer.

Silver, Blake R. and Josipa Roksa. 2017. "Navigating Uncertainty and Responsibility: Understanding Inequality in the Senior-Year Transition." Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 54(3): 248-260.

Grants and Fellowships

ACPA Foundation Research Grant. “Layered Transitions: First-Generation College Seniors from Immigrant Families.” PI: Blake Silver; Key Personnel: Tharuna Kalaivanan, Fanni Farago, and Kellie Wilkerson (09/2022-08/2023). 

American Sociological Association. Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline Grant. “Labor Market Precarity and Higher Education.” PI: Blake Silver (11/2020-03/2022).

National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, Paul P. Fidler Research Grant. "Transitioning OUT: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Students’ Experiences in the Senior Year." PI: Blake Silver (10/2019-10/2021).

NASPA Region III, Research Grant. "Gender, First-Generation American Students, and the Senior-Year Transition." PI: Blake Silver (08/2018-12/2019).

The NASPA Foundation, Channing Briggs Small Research Grant. “Navigating the Senior Year Transition: A Qualitative Study of the Experiences of First-Generation American Students.” PI: Blake Silver (10/2015-10/2016).

Courses Taught

The Individual and Society

Culture and Social Inequality

Higher Education and Society

Research Methods

Social Inequality and the Self

The Transition to Adulthood

Ethnography, Place, and Community

Education in Contemporary Society


PhD, Sociology, University of Virginia

MA, Sociology, University of Virginia

MA, Higher Education, George Washington University

BA, English, George Mason University

Dissertations Supervised

LeNaya Hezel, Changes: Understanding How Military-connected Students Acquire Social and Cultural Capital in Higher Education (2024)

Dissertations Supervised Outside of CHSS

Sara Montiel, Higher Education, “The Assets of Immigrant Parentage for First-Generation College Students: A Qualitative Study of Their Lived Experiences,” (2023).

Chris Fiorello, Higher Education, “There Are No Supermen Here: A Poststructural Narrative Study of Male-Identifying College Students' Resistance of Traditional Masculinities,” (2023).