Possible Selves and Higher Education: New Interdisciplinary Insights, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Possible Selves and Higher Education

New Interdisciplinary Insights, 1st Edition

Edited by Holly Henderson, Jacqueline Stevenson, Ann-Marie Bathmaker


158 pages

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Drawing together example studies from international contexts, this edited collection provides a new and cross-disciplinary perspective on the concept of the possible self, exploring its theoretical, methodological and empirical uses with regards to Higher Education. Building on research which examines the ways in which possible selves are constructed through inequalities of class, race and gender, the book interrogates the role of imagined futures in student, professional and academic lives, augmenting the concept of possible selves, with its origins in psychology, with sociological approaches to educational inequalities and exclusionary practices.

Possible Selves and Higher Education considers both the theoretical and methodological frameworks behind the concept of possible selves; the first section includes chapters that consider different theoretical insights, while the second section offers empirical examples, exploring how the possible selves concept has been used in many diverse higher education research contexts. With each chapter considering a different aspect of the structural barriers to or within education, the examples provided range from the experiences of students and teachers in the language learning classroom, to graduates entering employment for the first time, and refugees seeking to rebuild lives through engagement with education.

Offering a broad and diverse examination of how concepts of our future selves can affect and limit educational outcomes, this book furthers the sociological dialogue concerning the relationship between individual agency and structural constraints in higher education research. It is an essential and influential text for both students and academics, as well as anyone responsible for student services such as outreach and widening participation.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why Possible Selves and Higher Education? Section 1: Theorising Possible Selves Chapter 2: Potentials and Challenges when Using possible Selves in Studies of Student Motivation Chapter 3: Borrowed Time: A Sociological Theorisation of Possible Selves and Educational Subjectivities Chapter 4: Extending the Analytical Scope of Theories of ‘Possible Selves’ Section 2: Using the Possible Selves Concept Empirically Chapter 5: A Discursive Approach to Understanding the Role of Educators’ Possible Selves in Widening Students’ Participation in Classroom Interaction: Language Teachers’ Sense Making as ‘Acts of Imagination’ Chapter 6: Shaping Possible Selves: The Role of Family in Constructing Higher Education Futures for Students with Dyslexia Chapter 7: Unintended Imaginings: The Difficult Dimensions of Possible Selves Chapter 8: Transitions from Higher Education to Employment among Recent graduates in England: Unequal Changes of Achieving Desired Possible Selves Chapter 9: Imagining a Future: Refugee Women, Possible Selves and Higher Education

About the Editors

Holly Henderson is an ESRC-funded doctoral researcher at the School of Education, University of Birmingham, UK.

Jacqueline Stevenson is Professor of Education Research and Head of Research at the Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University, UK.

Ann-Marie Bathmaker is Professor of Vocational and Higher Education at the University of Birmingham, UK and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Development Studies, University of the Free State, South Africa.

About the Series

Research into Higher Education

Co-published with the Society for Research into Higher Education

This exciting new series aims to publish cutting edge research and discourse that reflects the rapidly changing world of higher education, examined in a global context. Encompassing topics of wide international relevance, the series includes every aspect of the international higher education research agenda, from strategic policy formulation and impact to pragmatic advice on best practice in the field.

For more information, or to express an interest in writing for the series, please contact Sarah Tuckwell, sarah.tuckwell@tandf.co.uk

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