Working-Class Women on an Access Course - Risk, Opportunity, and Re-Constructing Identities by Brine and Waller – Article Example

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The paper “ Working-Class Women on an Access Course - Risk, Opportunity, and Re-Constructing Identities by Brine and Waller” is a   meaningful variant of an article on education. The article looks towards examining the manner in which the social backgrounds of mature students especially women have on both the positive and imperative transitions which affect the learning habits. As the authors state, further education Access to University courses is attracting students from varied backgrounds. The research involved studying the lives of 20 students -- 16 of whom were women -- over two years, in an attempt to gain insights into the issues of evolving learner and class identities, and femininities, during the transitional phase of acquiring higher educational qualifications.

The authors note that their findings do not support the general assumption that a change in learner identity must necessarily lead to a concomitant change in class identity. What is the problem that is addressed in the research? The research question does not seem to have been clarified very well by the authors. They refer to several studies (Charlesworth 2000; Purcell 2002) to believe that education could lead to a change in class identity.

The authors look to present different problems through this article. Firstly, there is an issue related to the effect of the Access program has on the learning habits of people. Secondly, they present the manner in which risk and identities have an effect on the social outlook which helps to determine the learning habits for individuals. The final issue is the effect that the Access program has due to different identified and educational histories that students have undergone. What approach is taken to addressing this problem? The authors demarcate precise research areas rather neatly.

“ We focus on four specific areas of gendered risk: risk of academic failure, economic and material risk, the risk to personal relationships, and risk to class identity. Critically, these areas of risk are also areas of opportunity: of academic success, of economic and material well-being or stability, of new or improved personal relationships, and for some, of changed class identity. These areas are not necessarily where risks actually lay for the women, but where they perceive them to be. ” (Brine and Waller 2004: 102-103). The article takes the following approach while dealing with the issue addressed in the article: Involves interviewing the students regularly to glean qualitative insights into their experiences, feelings, and thoughts. Conducts a survey by focusing on eight women students from different backgrounds.

This has been done to ensure that the sample has a range of people from different social background so that the effect of the Access program can be better understood Focused research which looks to work on interviews based on the Access program for one year helps to highlight the manner social histories and background has an effect on learning and changing the behavior of students. The discussion through various interviews and having “ women perceptions of their complex and interlocking, class and learner identities, viewed through overlapping (gendered) lenses of families, relationships, and occupation” (p.

110) provides justification to the method and looks towards adopting different ways to identifying the manner Access program gets affected.        


Brine, J. & Waller, R. 2004. Working-class women on an Access course: risk, opportunity, and (re)constructing identities. Gender & Education, 16 (1), pp. 97-113women's access courses.pdf
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