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Defining the middle classes: using Bourdieu's trilogy of habitus, capital and field to deconstruct the reproduction of middle-class privilege

Defining the middle classes: using Bourdieu's trilogy of habitus, capital and field to deconstruct the reproduction of middle-class privilege
Defining the middle classes: using Bourdieu's trilogy of habitus, capital and field to deconstruct the reproduction of middle-class privilege
This is a thesis about the middle classes. Using Bourdieu's trilogy of habitus, capital and field, the thesis attempts to capture the logic of practice embedded in middle-class decision-making. Drawing on longitudinal, qualitative research across two sixth-form institutions, I explore how young people's and parents' narratives disrupt dominant accounts of the middle class as homogenously privileged and strategic players in the field of education. The thesis therefore proposes a more nuanced representation of middle class practice. Furthermore, with a fee-paying sixth-form the primary research site, the thesis addresses a neglected and often demonised 'other'.

The research explores the problems and gaps in the way that Bourdieu has been used so far to understand educational decision-making as a classed practice. I argue there has been a tendency to focus on the successful and straightforward educational outcomes of middle-class young people. The literature says very little about their practices, and there is a tendency to represent them as symbols of their parents' success. In many ways, middle-class young people are offered as a privileged, homogenous 'other' to working-class disadvantage. When the lens is directed to their parents, the literature emphasises how capital accumulations are strategically deployed to secure advantage for their children. The particular and practical logic generated by habitus is replaced by deliberate strategy. Although using a Bourdieuian vocabulary, when representing the middle classes, the workings of the habitus are largely absent.
Davey, Gayna
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Davey, Gayna
688b1d43-7c50-4edb-a893-7f7f0a05e249
Halford, Susan
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Heath, Sue
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Davey, Gayna (2009) Defining the middle classes: using Bourdieu's trilogy of habitus, capital and field to deconstruct the reproduction of middle-class privilege. University of Southampton, School of Social Sciences, Doctoral Thesis, 312pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This is a thesis about the middle classes. Using Bourdieu's trilogy of habitus, capital and field, the thesis attempts to capture the logic of practice embedded in middle-class decision-making. Drawing on longitudinal, qualitative research across two sixth-form institutions, I explore how young people's and parents' narratives disrupt dominant accounts of the middle class as homogenously privileged and strategic players in the field of education. The thesis therefore proposes a more nuanced representation of middle class practice. Furthermore, with a fee-paying sixth-form the primary research site, the thesis addresses a neglected and often demonised 'other'.

The research explores the problems and gaps in the way that Bourdieu has been used so far to understand educational decision-making as a classed practice. I argue there has been a tendency to focus on the successful and straightforward educational outcomes of middle-class young people. The literature says very little about their practices, and there is a tendency to represent them as symbols of their parents' success. In many ways, middle-class young people are offered as a privileged, homogenous 'other' to working-class disadvantage. When the lens is directed to their parents, the literature emphasises how capital accumulations are strategically deployed to secure advantage for their children. The particular and practical logic generated by habitus is replaced by deliberate strategy. Although using a Bourdieuian vocabulary, when representing the middle classes, the workings of the habitus are largely absent.

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Published date: December 2009
Organisations: University of Southampton

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Local EPrints ID: 173803
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/173803
PURE UUID: 75a828d5-4ca5-4afa-a1a1-cc83e6be931c

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Date deposited: 17 Jan 2014 16:34
Last modified: 29 Jan 2020 14:21

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