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A fish out of water’? The therapeutic narratives of working class adults into higher education.

Franceschelli, Michela; Evans, Karen; Schoon, Ingrid; (2015) A fish out of water’? The therapeutic narratives of working class adults into higher education. Current Sociology Green open access

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Abstract

Young people from working class backgrounds remained mostly excluded from the widening educational participation, which characterised post-war Britain. Based on 20 semi-structured interviews part of a wider study about ‘Social Participation and Identity’ (2008-2009), this article explores the unusual learning trajectories of a group of working class adults born in 1958, who participated in higher education (HE) in a context where most people from the same socio-economic backgrounds did not. Drawing from Bourdieu’s social theory, findings suggest that different types of retrospective accounts were mobilised to reconcile working class habitus and the perceived habitus as adults. Most research on working class and higher education focuses on the experiences of youth. By contrast, the use of retrospective accounts of adults has enabled us to capture the implications that the educational trajectories have later in life. We consider these accounts part of wider narratives that we define ‘therapeutic’. Therapeutic narratives were employed to come to terms with the ambivalence between a sense of exclusion and the acknowledgment of the opportunities associated with a working class habitus accessing new social fields.

Type: Article
Title: A fish out of water’? The therapeutic narratives of working class adults into higher education.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Bourdieu; habitus; social field; social mobility; higher education; therapeutic narratives; working class
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10021884
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