Widening the participation into higher education: examining Bourdieusian theory in relation to HE in the UK

Article


Burnell, I. 2015. Widening the participation into higher education: examining Bourdieusian theory in relation to HE in the UK. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education. 21 (2), pp. 93-109.
AuthorsBurnell, I.
Abstract

Bourdieu’s theories enable us to conceptualise and understand why some
people participate in higher education and some do not. Focussing on the
working class as the marginalised social group in HE, Bourdieu
demonstrated how education perpetuates inequality and lack of
opportunity. The theories or ‘thinking tools’ as he called them, provide an
explanation for why the working class do not participate in HE on the
same scale as the middle and upper classes. Habitus, for example,
enables us to understand that we have ‘a sense of one’s place which
leads one to exclude oneself from places from which one is excluded’
(Bourdieu 1984, 471). I examine the theories in the context of my own
research, and explore my participants’ experiences of HE using
Bourdieu’s theoretical framework. However, my research findings do not
support an uncritical application of Bourdieu’s theories; rather that one’s
habitus can change to accommodate new practices, and once that
change has occurred, it is socially reproduced. The findings of the
research are based on interviews with ten participants, all of whom are or
have been mature working class students in higher education.

JournalJournal of Adult and Continuing Education
Journal citation21 (2), pp. 93-109
ISSN1477-9714
Year2015
PublisherManchester University Press
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-NC
Publication dates
PrintNov 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited04 Dec 2015
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/8541x

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