Journeys : personal morphogenesis : a study of the interplay between structural, cultural, familial and biographical factors affecting mature students' decisions to undertake an Open Access course for possible entry to university
The thesis looks at the morphogenesis of structure, culture and agency and the historical interplay between them. It attempts to do this by investigating the lives of mature students applying for a place on an Open Access course as a foundation year for university entrance. The focus of the study concerns the reasons given by the students for their application to undertake Access and seeks to discover whether their decision to enrol on Access can be interpreted morphogenetically as representing a 'new beginning' in their lives; a 'new beginning' which in turn represents the end of a personal and culturally related morphogenetic cycle. It is the contention of the thesis that the socio-cultural background of the students is not one that is usually seen as culturally compatible with university entrance and thus their application represents not only a major event in their personal lives but also a significant cultural movement from one cultural base to another. Since Access courses represent a major educational initiative the students' decision to join the course can be read as a morphogenetic interplay of structural, cultural and biographical factors. Research material was gathered through a morphogenetic analysis of the students' Access application forms, course interviews, informal discussions, written statements whilst on the course and a series of in-depth interviews. The thesis concludes that from the evidence of their own life histories the students were experiencing a personal morphogenesis related to change in their lives and that their biographical 'journeys' need to be read in relation to the changing wider structural, cultural and familial backdrop against which their own morphogenesis is occurring.