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The Lifeworld of the University Student: Habitus and Social Class

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image of Journal of Phenomenological Psychology

Phenomenological psychology has typically avoided the "importation" of such concepts as social class from sociology.Within the epoche, such terminology is bracketed on the grounds that it brings with it excess theoretical baggage and threatens the return to experience in itself. Yet, in uncovering the lifeworld of university students who—in what in Britain is still predominantly a preserve of the privileged—come from relatively economically disadvantaged homes, "class" or some cognate concept is found to be necessary to capture the range of modes of alienation and disjunction experienced. Following Casey's discussion of the way in which Bourdieu's notion of habitus relates to Merleau-Ponty's description of the interpenetration of the natural and the cultural in the lived body, social class is shown to bring together students' accounts of their multi-faceted sense that "University is not for the likes of us"—encompassing issues of identity, sociality, and spatio-temporal dislocation.


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