Experiences of working-class aspiration, social mobility and class transition: sociological and existential impacts of class on the embodied self

McAdam, D.R., 2020. Experiences of working-class aspiration, social mobility and class transition: sociological and existential impacts of class on the embodied self. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Abstract

This thesis examines working-class aspirants' experiences of class mobility and attempts at class transition in 'becoming' middle-class. Focusing on the interiority of aspirant endeavour it examines the psychical, emotional, ontological and existential features of this striving for a ‘better classed life’ and the class-related anxieties that can ensue. The discussion draws on the work of key contributors to discourses on class, self and upward mobility. Central to this is the work of Bourdieu and his use of the embodied habitus. I contextualise this framing concept and other conceptual tools such as misrecognition and symbolic violence in relation to the 'aspirant self'. Critiques by Bourdieu's adherents and critics are used to build an argument for the significance of the emotional and psychical challenges in the reflexivity of aspirational endeavour. The study undertaken by Sennett and Cobb of the 'hidden injuries of class' is used with related research on the loss of a 'familiar' or authentic selfhood. The discussion also examines the ontological insecurity that can arise as a result of shifting class identities during and beyond mobility and class transition. I also draw on relevant personal experience, presented in the form of vignettes, in order to further explore and convey the nature of working-class aspiration on an embodied self.

The thesis makes a novel contribution to existing debates on the interiority and psychical issues of social mobility and class. By critiquing selected examples, I suggest that there is a basis for an existential sociology approach to class transition which places ontological insecurity and existential anxiety alongside the structural-determinist barriers of class as key components and inhibitors affecting class transition. The thesis therefore argues that working-class aspirants often experience psychical barriers in making this transition into middle-class life; that they carry injurious residues of their classed origins within their mobility trajectories, and that these often impose social and cultural constraints on a successful transition into the middle-class. In these ways the thesis makes a further contribution to the existing literature on the nuanced nature of aspiration and working-class mobility by extending the theme of hysteresis and conflicted interiority that can be experienced by working-class mobiles.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: McAdam, D.R.
Date: May 2020
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owners of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 27 May 2020 11:30
Last Modified: 27 May 2020 11:30
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/39900

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