Habitus and Homeland: Educational Aspirations, Family Life and Culture in Autobiographical Narratives of Educational Experience in Rural Wales

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Abstract

We use the concept of habitus to illuminate the autobiographical narratives of participants from disadvantaged backgrounds in mid-twentieth century rural Wales who were successful at university. The participants’ constructions of their habitus and aspirations drew upon a number of themes that intersected with their ideas of Welsh culture. Images of Welsh culture, history and national identity played a significant role in their accounts. The participants’‘aspirational habitus’ involved a rich blend of images and symbolic resources and a sense that they had a right to be at university. This has implications for how we conceive of habitus and its role in guiding people from rural to largely urban intellectual cultures. The participants’ experiences were made possible by virtue of the isolation of their rural communities and the corresponding significance of their social milieu, which consolidated their value system by attaching considerable significance to educational achievement.

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