23 SES 09 A, Contextualizing Opportunities for Educational Transitions: A comparative analysis from Belgium, Spain, the U.S. and the U.K.
This paper provides an analysis of the labour market transitions of a cohort of graduates from the two universities in the UK city of Bristol – the elite University of Bristol, and, the former polytechnic, the University of the West of England. The participants are part of the Paired Peers project, a Leverhulme Trust funded qualitative study, which started in 2010 and has tracked a group of young people from undergraduate induction, through to graduation, and beyond to post-graduation pathways/destinations. The project recruited 90 students from working-class and middle-class backgrounds in the first phase (2010-2013), investigating university experience, and retained 56 for the second phase (2014-2017), investigating graduate transitions. The participants that have remained in the research may be seen as the ‘lucky’ ones, those who have found degrees of success in the graduate recruitment churn. This paper interrogates the notion of ‘luck and success’ (Loveday 2016) by exploring issues of class, gender and institutional hierarchy in graduates’ experiences of ‘luck’ in transition to and through graduate labour markets. The discourse of ‘luck’ is argued to be part of the craft of ‘social magic’ (Bourdieu 1992) whereby the structures of disadvantage are obscured by a belief that outcomes are the product of both a meritocratic society and random serendipity. This process leads to both privilege being misrecognised as ‘luck’ and disadvantage being misrecognised as ‘bad luck’. The paper exposes the impacts of educational inequalities in graduate outcomes, where educational capital is superseded by other forms of misrecognised capital to ensure that the privileged maintain their social position.
Bourdieu, P. (1992), Language and Symbolic Power. Polity Press. Loveday, V. (2017), ‘Luck, chance, and happenstance? Perceptions of success and failure amongst fixed-term academic staff in UK higher education’, The British Journal of Sociology, Online early view http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-4446.12307/abstract
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