Social Deprivation and Widening Participation the Continuing Power of Pierre Bordieu

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper explores the use of a Bourdieuian methodological framework to interrogate the HE participation decisions of a group of young people, living in socially deprived communities in South Yorkshire. It discusses how a Bourdieuian methodological framework was utilised to understand how objective social structures such as social class, the family or education influenced the participants’ decision making. In using this methodological approach, I was able to begin to ascertain how the participants’ opinions, beliefs and ‘strategies of action’ were influenced by their working-class and socially deprived backgrounds. Such a methodological approach allowed the interviews that were undertaken to yield data that related to the participants expectations, motivations and aspirations and their subjective reasoning for non-participation. However, the interviews also emphasised objective structural influences relating to social, cultural and personal factors that may have unknowingly influenced their decisions

Much like Bourdieu and Wacquant (1992), this paper argues against methodological monism which has the ontological priority of structure or agent. In order to reconcile the dualisms of objectivism and subjectivism this paper explores the use of a three-level methodology inspired by Pierre Bourdieu, who suggests that the two orders, objectivity and subjectivity, are “...tied together through actual social practices, wherein objective social relations are produced and reproduced within particular situations” (2006, p.194). False oppositions like objectivism and subjectivism have been criticised by Bourdieu because, for him, the reality of people’s activities (practices) are a combination of many different influences (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992).

This paper enhances our understanding of how a Bourdieuian Methodological framework can be utilised to enhance our understanding of the complex, yet subtle influences to the HE participation decision making.
Period4 Jul 2016
Event titleBSA Bourdieu Study Group’s Inaugural Biennial Conference: The Contemporary Relevance of the Work of Pierre Bourdieu
Event typeConference
LocationBristol, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational