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Title: What is the value of higher education for white working class women in England?
Author: Downs, Yvonne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 8736
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2011
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This is a study about nine women graduates, including myself, who come from white working class backgrounds and it considers the enduring influence of higher education in our lives. I was interested, firstly, in why research to date has paid limited attention to the experience of higher education generally and to that of graduates in particular and, secondly, in why white men and women from working class backgrounds remain under-represented in higher education despite a decade of policy interventions aimed at increasing their participation. Since I also come from this background I have chosen to take an auto/biographical life history approach to look back at my experiences and at those of some of my contemporaries in the light of what we might have expected from our participation in higher education. My commitment is to doing reflexive feminist research which has an ethical aim and a moral purpose. To this end I have used Sen's capability approach as the basis for analysis. This led me to crafting life histories as counter-narratives to de-humanising accounts of working class participation in higher education. They address instead the value of higher education to lives lived over time. I have concluded that analyses of the value of higher education must also account for heterosexual norms and for the problematic nature of conceptualising value itself. My aim was thus to contribute to a new way of talking about the value of participation in higher education and to inspire further research inquiry from the perspective of students and graduates.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available