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Working-class women on an Access course: Risk, opportunity and (re)constructing identities

Brine, Jacky; Waller, Richard


Jacky Brine

Richard Waller
Professor of Education and Social Justice


Framed by discourses of lifelong learning and widening participation, further education Access to University courses attract mature students from a range of social backgrounds. This paper focuses on eight women students who, to varying degrees, share educational and occupational histories and aspirations. We explore their experiences of the Access programme by referring to developing learner and class identities and related femininities. This transitional phase is not a straightforward one of simply shedding old identities and donning unproblematic new ones, but is instead a period of reflexivity and risk, confusion and contradiction. Based on interviews held on termly basis throughout the one-year course, we draw on an analysis of risk to examine the gendered complexities of transitional class and learner identities and developing educational histories. In so doing, we challenge the assumption that a changing learner identity necessitates a corresponding shifting class identity.


Brine, J., & Waller, R. (2004). Working-class women on an Access course: Risk, opportunity and (re)constructing identities. Gender and Education, 16(1), 97-113.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2004
Journal Gender and Education
Print ISSN 0954-0253
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 1
Pages 97-113
Keywords working-class women, access course, risk, opportunity, (re)constructing identities
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