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Title: A career in the allied health professions : borrowing from Bourdieu to navigate student choice, class and policy
Author: Wordsworth, Stephen
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2013
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This study is an exploration of student education and training choice-making in the Allied Health Professions (AHPs). Rejecting the dominant and ‘official’ government discourse, educational choice-making in the AHPs is constructed as a form of social practice, derived from individual agency, but also the effects of institutional and social structures. Engaging with the work of Pierre Bourdieu, in particular the application of his conceptual tools of habitus, capital and field, I have ‘borrowed’ from his unique methodological approach to engage a number of inter-related stages of exploration in a specific and unique case. At the macro level, I conduct a critical discourse analysis of a relevant policy text. This is followed by a meso-level examination of field-specific capital, as the basis for determining the position of each programme within the AHP education and training field. Finally, a micro-level analysis, using both questionnaire and semi-structured interview data is used to identify and explore how students’ personal stories reveal the way that the habitus guides and shapes individual accounts and experiences of choice-making within Watson et al.’s (2009) diagrammatic construction of a social field. Choice-making in the AHP education and training field was found to be a complex mix of institutional structures, processes and individual position-taking. In this milieu, economic and political motives underpinning a revised policy discourse do not necessarily support greater democratisation of participation. The effect of capital revealed the possibility for distinction, hierarchy and status as a reflection of the position of each programme and the value placed upon them. Finally, the habitus, rather than generating static replies, was found to be capable of multiple and contingent responses. Along with other structural influences, social class, despite the emergence of its own fluidity, was nevertheless a major factor in shaping experiences and practical responses to AHP choice-making.
Supervisor: Winter, Chris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available