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Invited Speakers

Associate Professor Garth Stahl

School of Education, University of Queensland

Dr Sarah McDonald

Centre for Research in Education & Social Inclusion in Education Futures, University of South Australia

In the context of higher education, social capital typically refers to the network of relationships and resources that individuals and groups can draw upon to achieve their goals. Theories of social capital often highlight elements of trust, reciprocity, and a sense of belonging. It is widely assumed that students who are first-in-family (FIF) enter university with a lack of social capital and, for the most part, struggle to access and accumulate it at university. However, social capital has an important role to play as it can be integral to how FIF students access information, opportunities, and support which are all crucial for their success in higher education. Therefore, it is important we investigate how FIF students experience and rely on social capital as it can play a pivotal role in shaping their success at university and their prospects in future employment.

Drawing on theories of social capital (Coleman, Lin, Bourdieu, etc), this presentation captures how FIF students in Australia acquire social capital over the course of three years. Presenting empirical data, we explore the fine-grained distinctions between how the participants accessed and operationalized social capital during their time in higher education. Operationalizing social capital involves skilfully utilizing various relationships to achieve one’s goals which can often be in constrast to more working-class communal values. As a provocation, we explore how the accrual of social capital is closely related to what we refer to as self-crafting (Stahl & McDonald, 2022). How FIF young people craft their sense of self in relation to experiences social capital has remained largely unexplored and undertheorized. In examining self-crafting, we consider how the participants developed strategies to operationalize social capital in order to leverage their relationships and networks to their advantage and enhance their success in higher education.

About the presenters:

Garth Stahl is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.  He is a co-founder of the Bourdieu in Educational Research SIG for the American Educational Research Association and has published widely in sociology of education drawing on a Bourdieusian approach.  Previously he co-edited a book with Bloomsbury entitled International Perspectives on Theorizing Aspiration: Applying Bourdieu’s Tools.

Sarah McDonald is a Lecturer at the Centre for Research in Education & Social Inclusion in Education Futures at the University of South Australia. Her research in sociology of education focuses on gendered subjectivities, girlhood, learner identities, social mobility, social barriers, and inequalities in education. Her most recent co-authored book is Gendering the First-in-Family Experience: Transitions, Liminality, Performativity (2022).

About Our Webinar Series

This event is part of our regular webinar sessions for social capital researchers including PhD/master students. These sessions include invited presentations from prominent scholars as well as presentations by PhD students and experts in professional practice.

For social capital researchers, these sessions are an opportunity to hear about the latest social capital research and insights from scholars working on the concept. They can be a great way to connect with people, to get advice, discuss ideas or issues, get suggestions for literature to read, or you can just listen.

Are you researching social capital and want to present your research? Click here for more information and to submit a proposal.

Generally, presentations can be 20 to 45 mins. The content of your presentation will depend on your research stage.

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