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Accessing education : a feminist post/structuralist ethnography of widening educational participation.\ud

By Penny Jane Burke


This thesis represents a small-scale ethnography of access education. Using methods of auto/biography, I study the field of access education through students' life stories, spoken narratives and diary entries, while writing myself and aspects of my own auto/biography into the research. My analytical approach is framed by feminist post/structural theories, drawing on analytical tools such as deconstruction and discourse analysis and conceptual tools including power, collaboration through praxis, reflexivity, subjectivity and experience. The thesis focuses on a group of students returning to learning through various 'access courses' available at their local FE College within the context of burgeoning national policy on widening educational participation. In examining the competing discourses within the field of access education, it reveals the hidden dynamics in which access students are re/positioned in complex, contradictory and multiple ways. The research examines the implications of educational participation for access students and explores the effectiveness of interactive and collaborative approaches to the research and education of marginalised groups. The ethnography situates students and researcher as co-participants. Placing mature students' representations of educational experiences at the centre of knowledge production, the thesis argues that we must understand the backgrounds, interests and experiences of the particular social groups that policy seeks to target. I argue for the revitalisation of lively discussions about pedagogy within access education rooted in reflexive praxis that are committed to a politics of difference and to anticlassist, anti(hetero )sexist and antiracist practices. New forms of access practices that are inclusive and responsive to fluidity and context are presented through the insights of co-participants

Year: 2001
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