Aspirations, education and social justice: applying Sen and Bourdieu – book review

The August 2015 issue of the British Journal of Educational Studies carries a book review of Caroline Sarojini Hart’s Aspirations, education and social justice: applying Sen and Bourdieu that I wrote with Loic Menzies at LKMco.

In our review we reflect on how Sarojini Hart’s combination of theoretical and empirical work encourages us to unpack the notion of ‘aspirations’ that increasingly forms the focus of education policy in the UK. In particular, the book illuminates how young people exercise varying levels of agency in the formation of their aspirations, and that this agency is often stratified by class, ethnicity and geography. We reflect on Sarojini Hart’s critique of the ‘widening participation’ agenda in UK Higher Education and her compelling case that educational outcomes – from GCSE grades to attending university – have limited utility as measures of social justice within the education system.