Working the Borderlands: working-class students constructing hybrid identities and asserting their place in higher education

Gill Crozier, D Reay, John Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through the case-study experiences of 24 White and Black, Asian and
Minority Ethnic (BAME) working-class students from three very different
universities, we aim to illuminate the often hidden struggle for recognition
and respect for classed, ‘raced’ and gendered ways of being in
the university. We discuss how the students perceive their identities in
relation to their universities and their peers, and whether they feel the
need to adapt and change their classed/’racialised’ identities in order
to survive and progress or whether they resist any pressures and expectations
to do so. We explore the tension between ‘assimilation and
belonging’ and ‘betrayal and exclusion’ for White and BAME working-
class students and consider the intersectional implications. We draw
on the concept of hybridity to show the fluidity and fusions of transitioning
and developing identities. The article also seeks to contribute
further to the illumination of habitus as generative, through a process
of hybridity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)922–937
Number of pages45
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number7
Early online date13 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jun 2019


  • Identity; social class; ‘race’; higher education; hybridity; intersectionality; habitus

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