How can the concepts of habitus and field help us to understand the engagement of educational workers in higher Education?

LARSON, A., GARLAND, P. and MCCAIG, C. (2009). How can the concepts of habitus and field help us to understand the engagement of educational workers in higher Education? In: European conference of education research, Vienna, 28-30 September 2009. (Submitted)

Habitus_and_Educational_Workers_Larson_Garland_McCaig_2009.pdf - Draft Version

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In ‘Making a European area of lifelong learning a reality’, the EU stressed the role of universities in relation to lifelong learning, a role that entails a need for widening access to universities, particularly for those not coming through the traditional direct route of upper secondary education. As teachers play a significant role in the quality of the lifelong learning as well as in motivating future generations to take part in lifelong learning, education and training for teachers becomes important; not only in relation to initial teacher education, but also in relation to a continuous development of knowledge and skills. This paper represents the first stage of a larger comparative project intended to examine and compare educational workers’ (i.e. professionals involved in teaching in the class room) participation in higher education in England and Denmark, their access and interest. In particular, the paper relates participation and engagement to national and international educational policies and frames this work within an examination of the social background of the professional groups. The key research questions at this stage of the work are methodological and can be summed up by the overarching question, “How can the concepts of habitus and field help us to understand levels of engagement of educational workers in Higher Education”? The paper reports the results of our review of current policies and our efforts to identify the structural relations within the educational professional fields in each country. To do so we are developing a theoretical model using the relational analytical approach advocated by Bourdieu. As such, our work is an early stage attempt at operationalising Bourdieu’s observations regarding the dynamics of field. This seems to us to provide an important conceptual approach to understanding the habitus of educational workers in the context of the dynamics of a fast changing policy arena and the complexities of the backgrounds of individuals working in the educational field. The model attempts to build in the reflexivity that Bourdieu demands for a ‘science’ that is not weakened by over-emphasis on either the objective structural relations or the subjective phenomenology of experience. Thus, the paper presents a preliminary contextual analysis of the factors that enable an understanding of engagement or lack of engagement in higher level learning among school-based education workers in the two EU countries and is related to a larger research project that explores habitus (both individual and collective) among these groups of education workers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: This is the authors' version of a paper presented at ECER 2009 on 30 September 2009
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Institute of Education
Depositing User: Ian Chesters
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2010 10:21
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 02:01

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