The lived experience of working-class students at elite Scottish universities
The research in this dissertation was conducted with the aim of building upon previous work which explored working-class experiences at elite university institutions in the UK and overseas, and challenges that presented for working class social mobility. It has been established that, in terms of the UK, comparable research in this area is limited. It is therefore deemed important to bring a Scottish focus to this area. In depth interviews were conducted with students to collect and compare their experiences with each other, and with previous research, in order to find common themes. The research was then analysed using the theories of Pierre Bourdieu; namely cultural capital, field and habitus, with the aim of explaining the experiences of the students through the sociological imagination. The Scottish Government has passed legislation making university tuition free for all, and have focused on closing the attainment gap between rich and poor through a dedicated programme. The focus of these initiatives are on increasing social mobility, and will result in more young working-class applicants embarking on degrees at ‘elite’ universities. This dissertation focuses on the lived experiences of working-class students in this elite environment and seeks to uncover what challenges those coming from a traditionally non-university background may face, as they attempt to adapt to their new environment, or ‘habitus’.