1st Edition

Elite Universities and the Making of Privilege Exploring Race and Class in Global Educational Economies

By Kalwant Bhopal, Martin Myers Copyright 2023
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    Providing an extraordinary picture of the inner workings of elite universities, Elite Universities and the Making of Privilege draws on current debates on education and inequality and considers the relevance of universities’ global brand identities.

    Using the work of Bourdieu and critical race theory to explore how identity, experience and family background affects how people navigate the social space of the university, this book is underpinned with empirical research that considers different social, economic and educational contexts. Using interview accounts of graduate students, this book highlights ambiguities in how eliteness works as both a recognisable marker of institutional status and a marker that is rarely quantified or defined.

    Combining intellectually rigorous, accessible and controversial chapters, Elite Universities and the Making of Privilege is crucial reading for anyone looking to understand how race and class affect those navigating elite universities.

    About the Authors



    1. Introduction 

    2. The Centrality of Elite Universities Within the Global Economy of Eliteness 

    3. Pathways to Elite Universities: Elite Schools, Wealth and Status 

    4. Degrees of Entitlement: Who Belongs and Who Does Not?

    5. The Value of an Elite Degree

    6. Race, Privilege and Inequality

    7. Global Brands and the Field of Elite Universities

    8. White Capital and the Maintenance of White Supremacy

    9. Conclusions: Recognising the Unequal Field of Elite Universities




    Kalwant Bhopal is Professor of Education and Social Justice and Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Education at the University of Birmingham.

    Martin Myers is a sociologist of education in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham.

    'This compelling book reveals the commanding imprint of elite power on the workings of Britain’s most famous universities. Bhopal and Myers quote numerous revealing accounts from students whose feelings are all too clearly marked by this experience. This will be an invaluable resource for students, academics and the wider public who want to understand how deep inequalities mark our education system.'

    Mike Savage, Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science

    'This ground-breaking book brings a range of critical theories to bear on the global problems posed by our elite universities. It considers how they cynically attempt to promote meritocracy and egalitarianism whilst  simultaneously obscuring discriminatory practices. The book analyses a variety of topical issues including student experiences and how elite universities build a global reputation. Through an original theoretical lens and intensive empirical research, Bhopal and Myers set a critical fire beneath the virtue signalling marketing and positioning of the luxury brands of the worldwide Higher Education sphere.'

    Professor John Preston, Professor of Sociology, University of Essex

    'Universities are under attack from the political right, who would have us believe that they are bastions of 'woke' egalitarianism, intent of the destruction of Western civilization. As this book demonstrates, with devastating clarity and detailed analysis, the truth is that elite universities operate as engines of class and race inequity. Elite universities market themselves as places of privilege and they fulfil an extraordinarily important role in legitimating and reproducing the racist and class structures upon which they feed.'

    David Gillborn, Editor-in-Chief, Race Ethnicity and Education

    'The authors frame their analysis through the work of Bourdieu and critical race theory to explore how lived experience, identity, and family background impact the sociocultural and educational experiences of graduate students attending elite universities. Focusing on race and class, the text progressively explores belonging, branding, and capital, and also challenges meritocratic notions of equality through education. The text illustrates the realities of graduate students engaged in both implicit and explicit competition for white capital. This text would make an excellent example of the process and outcomes of conducting research, analyzing data, and presenting insights for graduate students or for undergraduates pursuing research.'

    D. Conrad, Randolph-Macon College, CHOICE