22 SES 09 A, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
Parallel Paper Session
Extensive research has illustrated the ways in which young people’s decisions about ‘where’ they study for their higher education (the type of HEI and its geographical distance from young people’s ‘homes’) are constrained by the economic and cultural resources to which they have access (Reay et al, 2001 Ball et al, 2002). However, there has been a scarcity of research which has considered how ‘place’, and the social and economic relations within particular geographical locations, might bear upon ‘where’ young people study for their higher education.
Research objectives and questions
The research aims to explore the significance of ‘place’ for young people’s decisions about post-compulsory education and training, particularly their decisions about higher education. Attention to ‘place’ brings to the focus attention to the social and economic relations which characterise particular ‘local’ geographical locations, as well as young people’s affective relationships with their ‘home’ localities. The research asks ‘how does place bear upon young people’s decisions about higher education?’
The study critically engages with rational action theory and cultural reproduction theory. It illustrates the ways in which decisions about higher education are partially pragmatically rational (Hodkinson and Sparkes, 1997); they are informed by resources of travel and accommodation, as well as by advice and information gathered from friends or family. Decisions are also framed by the material and cultural resources to which young people have access. It is also argued that ‘place’ has an important bearing upon decisions about higher education through the emotional and affective relationships which young people have with ‘home.’ It is argued that these affective relationships are born out of the social relations which characterise particular geographical locations.
The research will contribute to a body of literature which has documented the ways in which decisions about HE are framed by social structures of social class, gender and ethnicity (Reay et al, 2001) or by pragmatically rational decisions (Hodkinson and Sparkes, 1997). This research contributes to this body of knowledge by illustrating the importance of young people’s affective relationships with particular places in the decisions they make about HE. The study has importance for European and national contexts since it illuminates both the importance of the nuances and specificities of place (particularly young people’s emotional and affective relationships with ‘home’ localities), as well as the significance of the national context for understanding higher education applicants’ decisions regarding geographical mobility in their transition to university. Such geographical mobility involves both within-country mobility but also cross-border flows in the transition from ‘home’ to university.
Ball, S. J. et al. 2002. ‘Classification’ and ‘Judgment:’ Social class and the ‘cognitive structure’ of choice of higher education. British Journal of Sociology of Education 23 (1), pp. 51-72 Hodkinson, P and Sparkes, A. C. 1997.Careership: A sociological theory of career decision making. British Journal of Sociology of Education. 18(1), pp 29-44 Reay, D. et al. 2001. ‘Choice of degree of degrees of choice? Class, ‘race’ and the higher education choice process. Sociology 35 (4), pp. 855-874
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