University of Sussex
01 Morley.Intro.21Nov20.pdf (312.13 kB)

Does class still matter? Conversations about power, privilege and persistent inequalities in higher education

Download (312.13 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 22:19 authored by Louise Morley
Despite decades of policy interventions in diverse national locations to encourage more people from working-class backgrounds to enter higher education as students, the socioeconomics and geo-demographics of the global academy remain a site of class privilege and a vehicle for social differentiation (Hoskins, 2010; Jin & Ball, 2019; Liu, Green, & Pensiero, 2016; Michell, Wilson, & Archer, 2015; Morley, 2012). In relation to students, Boliver (2011) claims that notwithstanding expansion in access, ‘social class inequalities in British higher education have been both maximally and effectively maintained’ (p. 240). When one intersects social class with gender and the putative ‘feminisation’ of higher education, a range of complexities arise about women’s inclusion and working-class men’s exclusion from new opportunity structures. Yet questions remain about who is valued, affirmed and supported in higher education systems, and who has to struggle to be allowed to enter, survive and thrive (Lee, 2017; Muzzatti & Samarco, 2006; Taylor, 2010). It is this struggle that produces the potent affective economy and critical dialogues that are explored by authors in this Special Issue. As Blackman (2014) argues, ‘affect acts as an attractor for and pick up on more longstanding debates surrounding power, agency, subjectivity and biopolitics’ (p. 364). Despite the affective turn in the humanities and social sciences, it seems like a fairly high-risk strategy to create discursive space for articulations and intellectual formations of the inner conversations of lack, deficit, shame, and desire associated with working-class academic identities in the contemporary social context of fluid and shifting identities and unboundaried opportunities.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Accepted version


Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education




Taylor & Francis

Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Education Publications

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


First Open Access (FOA) Date


First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected