Academic libraries and working class experiences of higher education

Preater, Andrew ORCID: (2020) Academic libraries and working class experiences of higher education. In: Working Class Academics Conference, 14-15 July 2020, Blackburn, United Kingdom. (Unpublished)

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This presentation is a critical reflection on the limitations of academic libraries' attempts to support widening participation in higher education as a political project, and on our potential to support working class equity, self-actualisation and liberation.

Critical sociologists of education have developed a rich body of research and scholarship which addresses working-class exclusion from higher education, especially in terms of access, and feelings of marginalisation and impostorship of working-class students. However, relatively little attention has been paid to working-class experiences of academic libraries as a site of marginalisation within higher education.

Libraries should be key to learners' independent formation of their academic identities and in finding voice as writers. They provide spaces free from assessment, and librarians select and provide access to print and online collections which form reserves of cultural capital. These, alongside practices and ways of knowing developed within educational settings, represent those capitals most valued and legitimised by universities and wider society. In our practice however, librarians misrecognise working-class students (in the sense meant within Nancy Fraser's model of recognition and theory of justice). This misrecognition is facilitated by middle-class cultures of higher education and librarianship, and deficit models of working-class communities which employ middle-class experience and knowledge as representative markers of 'good' students. Working-class exclusion from professional librarianship based on economic inequality, as well as cultural hierarchies, also limits potential for change from within.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Education > Academic cultures
Education > Higher education
Library and information sciences
Depositing User: Andrew Preater
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2020 11:22
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:13


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