22 SES 16 B, Asymmetric Higher Education Spaces and the Configuration of Work Related Aspirations of Mexican Undergraduate Students
This symposium’s main objective is to explain how Asymmetric Higher Education Spaces (AHES) intervene in the distribution of social inequality in terms of how they configure undergraduate students’ capacity aspire. It seeks to answer why students have diverse and sometimes contradictory aspirations regarding their future. Universities are understood as Asymmetric Higher Education Spaces, social entities which institute rules, mores and practices, establish conditions for recognition and criteria for equality. The different ways in which universities are configured, especially in regards to their level of academic development and to the segmentation of their social composition, put inequalities into relief. Asymmetric Higher Education Spaces are conditioned by structural factors (economic, social, political, cultural) and work to guide “future creating practices” to the extent that they can broaden or narrow students’ capacity to aspire.
How do young undergraduate students build their future? Thinking about the future implies recognizing significant changes between a “now” and a “then”. This mode of thinking requires an appropriation and handling of time in such a way that things won’t happen unless we have a degree of control over them. In this sense, the future depends on the action of social groupings and individuals. On the decisions they make to design it and build it according to certain beliefs and preferences. In a country such as Mexico, the outcome of such decisions is a disengagement of the aspiration to get a higher education and the social recognition that specific higher education spaces bring, especially among less favored groups.
Based on an index developed by (Villa Lever, et. Al. 2017) to identify and select higher education institutions based on their characteristics, values and norms, I define higher education spaces as comprising three levels of academic development: high, medium and low. They are conceived as social constructions that enable the analysis of historically localized inequalities (Restrepo, 2004: 30-31). When these historically localized inequalities intersect with dimensions such as gender, ethnicity and initial social position, higher education spaces have been seen to bind to and (re)produce the inequalities that take place in the complex of people’s everyday lives (Bustelo, 2008); they are in this sense interdependent (Braig, Costa, Goebel, 2015); they naturalize social practices that further othering and justify hierarchical orders (Nash, 2001; Nussbaum, 2006). To be able to analyze Higher education spaces in all their complexity, they have to be situated in specific contexts (Nash, 2001:23).
The questions that guide the research are:
- How do asymmetric higher education spaces intervene among young undergraduates in the configuration of their capacity to aspire and build their own future.
- What aspirations and wishes toward the future do young undergraduate students hold in regards to their work life, to their possibilities of social mobility, and to citizen participation.
- How do these aspirations and wishes manifest when they intersect with initial social position, gender and ethnicity?
The method we put forward is based on a survey administered to a statistical sample of young undergraduate students in six universities, three public and three private, in Mexico city and Guadalajara. In every university two bachelor programs (law and administration) were selected, as well as one engineering program (computer engineering). First and last year students from these programs were surveyed.
Selected higher education spaces have different levels of academic development : 1. By subfield: Public and Private. 2. By Type of Higher Education Space : High, Medium and Low.
The questionnaire comprises four sections : 1. General data ; 2. Educational background ; 3. Higher Education Studies : subdivided in first year and last year; 4. Aspirations towards the future as related to work, social mobility and citizenship.
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