A Steep Trajectory: An Educational Autoethnography of a Working Class Late Bloomer
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Using Bourdieu’s theory of habitus and related constructs of capital, fields, and practice, I constructed an autoethnography that traced my early educational experiences as a First- generation student from a working class background. In light of persistent and substantial underrepresentation of Canadian working class students participating in and completing university, in this thesis I critically evaluate the trajectory that eventually led me to a master’s degree in education and an ostensibly upper-middle class life. Autobiographical narratives told from my current position in “social limbo” (Friedman, 2015, p. 4), were interwoven alongside theory, empirical evidence, personal school-related documents, and interview data from my parents to explore the ways in which social class helped to shape my disposition of ambivalence towards the education system and experiences of upward social mobility. Findings challenged popular conceptions of meritocracy and education as “the great equalizer,” and discourses that emphasize personal success and failure through their largely uncritical support for upward mobility. By providing a more complex analysis of social class and its intersections with gender, race, and important familial background characteristics, I present this autoethnography as a legitimate contribution to a small but growing body of Canadian literature concerned with the subjective experiences of working class students.