Working-class women on an Access course: Risk, opportunity and (re)constructing identities
Brine, J. and Waller, R. (2004) Working-class women on an Access course: Risk, opportunity and (re)constructing identities. Gender and Education, 16 (1). pp. 97-114. ISSN 0954-0253
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0954025032000170363
Framed by discourses of lifelong learning and widening participation, further education Access to University courses attract mature students from a range of social backgrounds. This paper focuses on eight women students who, to varying degrees, share educatiojnal and occupational histories and aspirations. We explore their experiences of the Access programme by referring to developing learner and class identities and related femininities. The transitional phase is not a straightforward one of simply shedding old identities and donning unproblematic new ones, but is instead a period of reflexivity and risk, confusion and contradiction. Based on interviews held on termly basis throughout the one-year course, we draw on an analysis of risk to examine the gendered complexitities of transitional class and learner identities and developing educational histories. In so doing, we challenge the assumption that a changing learner identity necessitates a corresponding shifting class identity.