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    Stories of Family in Working Class Graduates' Early Careers

    Christie, Fiona ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1384-3683 and Burke, Ciaran (2021) Stories of Family in Working Class Graduates' Early Careers. British Educational Research Journal, 47 (1). pp. 85-104. ISSN 0141-1926

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    Abstract

    How do young graduates view the role of immediate families in influencing/supporting them as they start their working lives and how do those reflections affect how they think of themselves as graduates? Social, political and economic changes have led to many young people being dependent on family for longer, but how does this play out in their reflections? This article addresses these questions by reporting upon findings from qualitative research with 14 young people from working-class backgrounds, who were part of a larger study of recent graduates. Figured Worlds theory illuminates data, with a consideration of the role that family plays in the ‘space of authoring’ and understanding of ‘positionality’. Findings capture vivid stories of the enabling but also limiting role of family. In our analysis of data, we borrow the words ‘salience’ from Holland and her co-authors and ‘distinction’ from Bourdieu, which help capture different depictions of family. Both articulations of ‘salience’ and a search for ‘distinction’ emerge in how graduates’ stories respond to family. We argue for a greater appreciation of the differing family resources of working-class graduates, and reject an emphasis on what they may lack, compared to their peers, which has tended to be the case in some media and policy commentary. There are implications for educators to foster student reflexivity about family sensitively, and to be aware of how family backgrounds may influence graduate career paths and students’ awareness of wider inequalities.

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