The Theory

Privilege and Power

A number of related theoretical concepts informed the development of the Framework, most notably Freire’s (1972) concept of praxis, which values theory and practice. For Widening Participation interventions, it provides a theoretical basis for combining insights from the expertise of the practitioners who plan and deliver outreach programmes with academic research into the reasons for differential participation.

The work of Pierre Bourdieu, and his notions of capital, habitus and field also inform the Framework as they are useful in explaining how cultural differences translate into structural inequalities at a societal level. Bourdieu's concepts have been used by many researchers in the field of Widening Participation and the Framework aims have been  developed from his definitions of  intellectual capital (subject expertise), academic capital (understanding of rules and customs within the academy) and social capital (social connections) (Whitty, Hayton and Tang, 2015). 

While Bourdieu’s theories provide a context for understanding inequalities they do not set out to recommend practical strategies for change or address individual processes for developing and mobilising capitals.


Students At Fair