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Title
Neoliberal meritocracy: how 'widening participation' to universities in England reinforces class divisions
Authors ; GND-ID
Sourceon education. Journal for research and debate 4 (2021) 10, 7 S. ZDB
Document  (375 KB)
License of the document Lizenz-Logo 
Keywords (German)Solidarität; Hochschule; Hochschulzugang; Neoliberalismus; Soziale Klasse; Soziale Mobilität; Klassengesellschaft; Bildungsbeteiligung; Benachteiligung; Student; Großbritannien
sub-disciplineEducational Sociology
Higher Education
Document typeArticle (journal)
ISSN2571-7855; 25717855
LanguageEnglish
Year of creation
review statusPublishing House Lectorship
Abstract (English):This essay details the processes through which English universities reinforce existing social class divisions while at the same time extending access for populations that had historically been excluded from universities. Practices commonly referred to within higher education policy as ‘widening participation’ that purport to show solidarity with previously excluded student populations, we argue, function to maintain not diminish inequalities. While the meritocratic ideals underpinning the social mobility narrative of widening participation encourage economic and employment aspirations as prime motivations for applying and entering university, widening participation has not coincided with meaningful mobility. Through an analysis of major shifts in higher education policy, we argue that categorisations of the ‘disadvantaged’ student are manufactured to assist universities to fund and legitimate themselves as vehicles of social mobility. In this context, we argue that a precarious legitimacy exists because social mobility operates within a wider culture of embedded class privilege, and this is constantly managed by state regulatory frameworks which reshape and repurpose universities to fit a neoliberal meritocratic image of the larger society and the role of universities within it. Ideas of ‘disadvantage’ service solidarity not with the ‘disadvantaged’ but with educational service providers, as they offer a target for the promotion of neoliberal meritocracy. In the course of this, class differentials are reinforced by channelling ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘advantaged’ students into different niches of the labour market, preserving existing inequalities, and sorting graduates into winners and losers. (DIPF/Orig.)
other articles of this journalon education. Journal for research and debate Jahr: 2021
additional URLsDOI: 10.17899/on_ed.2021.10.8
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Date of publication01.10.2021
CitationCunningham, Chris; Samson, Colin: Neoliberal meritocracy: how 'widening participation' to universities in England reinforces class divisions - In: on education. Journal for research and debate 4 (2021) 10, 7 S. - URN: urn:nbn:de:0111-pedocs-233654 - DOI: 10.25656/01:23365
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