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Title: Who influences white working-class boys' higher education decision-making process? : the role of social networks
Author: McLellan, Ruth
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2013
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The study illuminates the influence of social networks on the HE decision-making process of white working-class boys. The impact of gender, race and social class social characteristics on white working-class boys HE decision-making is assessed. In addition, how white working-class boys define and discuss the membership of their social network, together with the phenomenon of social network influence on white working-class boys’ decision-making about HE at Key Stage 4. The expansive literature review explores the problem that white working-class boys are seriously under-represented in HE and examines widening participation government policy, factors influencing the under-representation of boys in HE and the influences on the decision-making process for HE participation. The literature review concluded the strong impact of social characteristics and social relations on influencing white working-class boys to aspire to HE. The unique interpretive study is illuminated through a case study approach, which uses qualitative structured interviews with nine boys and their social network as a way of revealing the boys’ HE decision-making phenomenon. Interpretive analysis highlights the influence of social network and the boys’ perspectives specifically identified the processes of ‘talk’, ‘behaviour’, and ‘experience’. Analysis of social network data exposed their influence of talk, aspiration raising, and support for agency. The findings suggest that access to social capital resources pervades the ability of the social network to influence boys’ HE decision-making process. Mothers have a powerful and positive influence on their son’s aspirations for HE, but mothers with limited access to social networks with HE experience were limited in their ability to influence. Teachers all possess experience of HE, and those teachers who are prepared to share their social capital resources provide another valuable influence on boys’ HE decision-making process. The study concludes that the government policy for increasing white working-class boys’ HE participation must include provision for supporting mothers with raising and vitally enabling their son’s aspirations for HE. In addition, schools have a critical role to play on educating social networks and boys on the importance of developing and utilising social capital in order to ‘get ahead’. Furthermore, schools in disadvantaged areas already have experience, as a result of participating in ‘Aim higher’ (2004-2011) provision, of using cultural and social capital to support disadvantaged boys with their HE decision-making process. Schools knowledge of HE and networks could be further utilised to support their white-working class boys with their HE decision-making process.
Supervisor: Fuller, Alison ; Parsons, Sarah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB2300 Higher Education