University of Tasmania
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What aspects of social capital in the family unit influence the socialisation process of students on the Northwest of Tasmania?

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posted on 2023-05-27, 11:45 authored by Roberts, WA
Rural students located on the Northwest Coast of Tasmania are less likely to participate in higher education than their urban counterparts (ABS, 2011a). Despite considerable research, and reforms in education systems and in schools to overcome discrepancies between urban and rural higher education participation rates, the participation gap remains. A growing body of work indicates family attitudes are the dominant influence on young people's academic success and aspirations for further education. This research employed the methodology of multiple case studies to construct a comprehensive picture of the influence of characteristics of social capital in the family unit on the learning process of students on the Northwest Coast of Tasmania. Drawing on theories of social and cultural capital, this study has two main findings. First, that a young student's bonding social capital - specifically, the presence or absence of an academically successful role model in the family - plays a significant role in shaping their embodied cultural capital through their knowledge and beliefs, agency and self-efficacy, and post-secondary expectations via a complex interplay of processes. Second, it was possible to access bridging social capital and to intervene in the processes of the accumulation of embodied cultural capital. Through the use of in-depth interviews and a Year 12 student questionnaire (n = 6) and parent/guardian questionnaire (n = 6), the research explores young people's pre-existing knowledge of, beliefs about, and aspirations towards learning and further education, and identifies the key influences on their habitus. Bonding social capital emerged as an important factor on the construction of a student's attitude and focus towards learning and future tertiary education. The causes of these phenomena were multiple and interconnected, with interaction with academically successful role models, access to accurate information and life all having an encouraging effect.


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