Class, state schooling & social inequalities in England: a critical ethnography with a participatory visual intervention for the empowerment of an 'underclass'

Jones, Sharon (2019) Class, state schooling & social inequalities in England: a critical ethnography with a participatory visual intervention for the empowerment of an 'underclass'. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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This thesis critically explores the role state schooling and education plays in contributing to the lived experiences of social class inequalities and the knock on effect this has upon and throughout adulthood. Five female adults from the lower strata of the working class who live with multiple deprivations in an English town with economic, social and education disadvantages were recruited. Through a critical theoretical framework, this thesis draws from both Marxist and Bourdieusian class and reproduction theories. This framework was most suitable to uncover and expose relations of power and domination at the root cause of the inequalities with the view to creating the space for individual and wider sociopolitical change. However, Bourdieu offered no way forward for agency to become active in challenging existing structures and as Marx did not write widely about education this thesis further relates to a Freirean form of praxis. That is, agency engaging in a cyclical process of action and reflection for transformation. A critical ethnography was employed and methods used were multiple, in-depth and participatory. In addition to developing and raising consciousness amongst the adult participants, space was created for a visual intervention, referred to as VICE, to complement the dialogue. The findings demonstrate the ways in which state schooling and did contribute to the reproduction of inequalities and how the lower strata of the working class internalise their negative experiences resulting in struggles between the ‘self’ and wider society. Furthermore, the findings from the VICE show the adult participants did take some positive steps towards their individual and socio-political transformation and they had raised their social, political and economic consciousness. More nuanced research is needed from adult perspectives for a micro, meso and macro level analysis. There is also a need for research to develop innovative methods to bridge a gap between theory and practice led methodologies to include otherwise marginalised voices.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Accessibility note: If you require a more accessible version of this thesis, please contact us at
Keywords: social class, underclass, consciousness, critical education, inequalities, empowerment
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2021 14:22
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2021 16:15

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