Confronting myself: an auto/biographical exploration of the impactof class and education on the formation of self and identity

PhD Thesis

Stone, P. 2018. Confronting myself: an auto/biographical exploration of the impactof class and education on the formation of self and identity. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
AuthorsStone, P.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

This thesis is an exploration of the inter-relationship between class transition and education, in a bid to understand the impact of both in the formation of self and identity. This thesis considers that processes of recognition, deeply personal, but also located in institutional encounters, are essential to moving beyond feelings of illegitimacy and to moving across class boundaries. It is a story of one woman’s agency and greater capacity to talk truth to power.

Using an auto/biographical approach, I illustrate how education has enabled me to cross class boundaries to become a senior lecturer in a university, and to confront how my class origins and family status have had an enduring impact on my epistemological beliefs. I highlight how misrecognition can become a source of agency, to the benefit of self and those whom I teach.

Drawing on critical theory and feminist approaches, I argue that auto/biography provides a legitimate means of illuminating the minutiae of self/other encounters. A psycho-social multidisciplinary lens encompassing concepts of habitus and recognition, has enabled me to chronicle and theorise the lived experience of class relations and how these can be understood and transcended.

This is a story of ‘une miraculée’ (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1990). Using the theories of Pierre Bourdieu and Axel Honneth, as interpretive frameworks, I present a phenomenological perspective of what it is like to be a ‘lecturer from the working class’ in class-ridden society and a neoliberal education system, and the disrespect and misrecognition these can bring. Writing auto/biographically, augmented by the use of a collaborative narrative approach (Arvay, 1998), I confront feelings of illegitimacy in academia and demonstrate how undertaking the PhD has had an impact on me personally and professionally.

The aim of this thesis was to speak the truth about the dominant middle class ideology in the academy; and to challenge the academic community, in particular middle class colleagues, to confront their unconscious class prejudices. Furthermore, I anticipate that this research will make an important contribution to the existing research paradigm that uses auto/biographical approaches to show the lived experiences of people’s lives; and show that writing auto/biographically is therapeutic, educational and reflexive, as well as agentic.

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Publication process dates
Deposited24 Oct 2018
AcceptedMar 2018
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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