A two day BSA regional postgraduate conference and workshop was held at the University of East London on March 20th and 21st 2012. The event centred around the theme of social class and educational aspiration for academic and PhD empirical research in the field of sociology and education.
Social class and education is a popular topic, but it seems all the more relevant with the recent changes to education in a new era of a Conservative government and a “new age of austerity”, particularly given the tuition fee increase which came into effect in the same year as the conference. A Conference on social class and aspiration raised questions on such issues as whether socially deprived school leavers would want to take the economic risk of incurring long-term debts, especially if their access to future employment securing the possibility of repaying debts relates more to their class than to their educational attainment. For a video of Prof Derek Robbins talking about the conference click here.
The event included five key note talks by academics and journalists who had all carried out substantial research into social class and education.
- Prof John Preston (University of East London) Whiteness and Class in Education
- Dr Nicola Ingram (Bristol) Comparative experiences of attending a elite research institution and a post 1992 university in Bristol
- Prof John Storan (University of East London) Widening Participation in HE
- Prof Derek Robbins (University of East London) Bourdieu and Education
- Owen Jones: Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
The first four academics listed above also conducted PhD Workshop/PhD troubleshooter classes over the two days on discussion and questions on researching social class and education at a postgraduate level.
The workshops were led and arranged by each of the academic speakers, who saw the abstracts of the PhD students’ research beforehand and arrange suitable reading.
There were eighteen PhD conference talks to choose from. Presentations were at a very high standard and topics covered included: The impact of tuition fees on students’ higher education choices, The new face of suburbia- black middle class family aspirations, The consumption of overseas education, parental expectation in motivating children’s social mobility, Successful Black Males at Elite Higher Education Institutions in the UK, the cultural transformation of ‘urban children’ in a London academy, The life-cycle of the Education Maintenance Allowance, material and moral aspirations amongst white working class boys, as well as many more groundbreaking research topics. Click here for the Book of Abstracts SCEA.
There was also a poster presentation given at the end of the first day over a wine reception and made for enlightening and interesting discussion.
The conference was well received and there were requests to run it again. Although it was not strictly a Bourdieu study group event, it was arranged by one of the co-convenors (Jenny Thatcher) and a long term member (Tamsin Bowers-Brown) of the study group. We also had several study group members giving key note talks, presentations and attending. The topic of Bourdieu and education is likely to be a forthcoming event for the study group sometime in the future.