22 SES 12 B, Theoretical Perspectives on Access to Higher Education: Contrasting insights from Bourdieu, Archer, Simon and Kahneman
The emergence of post-industrialisation and, with it, a knowledge economy introduced a Petesupposed sea change in social stratification. Gone were positions based on birth right, and, instead, a social system was formed based on knowledge. Through the meritocratic narratives of human capital theorists such as Theodore Schultz (1971), education became a cornerstone in the pursuit for social equality, and increased access to education became a simple yet elegant policy to foster social mobility. As Tight (2012) has discussed, while “widening participation” has not always been in the public/policy vocabulary, it is a policy with its roots in post-war Britain. In theory, it is the active reduction of barriers for non-traditional students to attend higher education. In practice, placing the responsibility and choice of educational pathways firmly on the student. This paper will encourage supporters/advocates of widening participation to pause and consider the structural and individual barriers still present within the UK higher education system, characterised as being committed to widening participation, through a critical sociological lens – to be specific, through Bourdieusian social theory (1977, 1992). This paper will provide an introduction to his central thinking tools – habitus, capital and field – and consider how these tools direct ‘symbolic mastery’ (Bourdieu, 1977), the reflective side of practice (Noble and Watkins, 2003; Burke, 2015). It will, then, turn to discuss his arguments, with Passeron, concerning the education system (1974, 1990) – in particular, its socially reproductive role and the subjective barriers working class students place over their educational trajectories. This paper will place its theoretical discussion in the context of the Northern Irish higher education system and the particular widening participation strategy within the region, briefly addressing the specific environment in which Northern Ireland finds itself. The paper will outline the key variables concerning widening participation policy (social class, gender, race & ethnicity) and unpack how these are expressed and experienced within Northern Irish higher education. Turning to a specific focus on social class, this paper will draw on previous empirical work by the author (Burke, 2015) to illustrate the continuing barriers to accessing higher education. Specifically, the paper will provide a contrasting position to the reflexivity thesis (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 2002; Archer, 1996, 2003, 2007) and consider the limits habitus and capitals impose on internal conversations (Archer, 2003). The paper will demonstrate the empirical relevance of reflection over reflexivity when considering the challenges to “playing the game”.
Archer, M.S. (1996) Culture and Agency: Revised Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Archer, M.S. (2003) Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Archer, M.S. (2007) Making our Way through the World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Beck, U. and Beck-Gernsheim, E. (2002) Individualization. London: Sage Publications. Bourdieu, P. (1974) “The School as a Conservative Force: scholastic and cultural inequalities”, In: Eggleston, J. (ed.) Contemporary Research in the Sociology of Education. London: Methuen and Co. Ltd. pp. 32-47. Bourdieu, P. (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Bourdieu, P. and Wacquant, L. (1992) An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press. Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J-C. (1990) Reproduction in Education Society and Culture. (2nd ed.) London: Sage Publications. Burke, C. (2015) Culture, Capitals and Graduate Future: Degrees of Class. London: Routledge. Noble, G. and Watkins, M. (2003) ‘So, How Did Bourdieu Learn to Play Tennis? Habitus, Consciousness and Habituation’, Cultural Studies, 17 (3), 520–539. Schultz, T.W. (1971) Investment in Human Capital: The Role of Education and of Research. New York: The Free Press. Tight, M. (2012) “Widening Participation: a post-war scorecard”, British Journal of Educational Studies, 60 (3): 211-226.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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