Parental influence and HE decision making: The continuing power of local culture

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4 Citations (Scopus)


This case study illustrates why a group of young adults from a working-class community in the UK choose not to participate in HE despite having the necessary qualifications. It highlights the impact that parents have on HE participation decisions, and the network of social connections participants are able to mobilise from their parents. It shows how objective social structures such as the family can influence values, cultural rules and decision making, both directly and indirectly. It was found that, although parents were initially supportive of Higher Education (HE) participation, they appeared to quickly exhibit collective expectations and socially inculcated beliefs pertaining to employment and the need to make money. The socialisation that took place in the family made participants believe that non-participation was best and that employment was the right thing to do. This case study utilises the work of Bourdieu, Coleman and Putnam, with findings being drawn from a set of semi-structured interviews with 33 young adults. This article enhances our understanding of the influence of parents on HE decision making because it provides details about the way that parental influence works both directly and indirectly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-161
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number2
Early online date6 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


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