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Battling with their past and fighting for their future: A study of the experiences and identities of a group of British Army students in UK higher education

WEBB, KIM,VIVIENNE (2014) Battling with their past and fighting for their future: A study of the experiences and identities of a group of British Army students in UK higher education. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Missing from academic literature exploring the learning experiences of under-represented student populations in UK higher education are accounts from students who have served, or are serving in the British Army. This lacuna is despite suggestions that the specific demands and obligations of military service may engender tensions for personnel when adapting to civilian life. Two purposes frame this investigation: 1.To gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of students in UK higher education who have served, or are still serving, in the British Army and 2.To investigate how notions of identity affect the higher education experiences of this particular group of students.
I frame the study within a critical emancipatory methodology drawing theoretically on the transformative paradigm that privileges sensitivity to social and cultural histories. Utilising qualitative methods, data sources comprise an internet based survey and nineteen autobiographical narrative interviews conducted by telephone, face-to-face and Skype.
Analysis of data indicates that the experiences of British Army students are profoundly influenced by two main factors: a damaging educational past and the ideals and values they bring with them to higher education. Resilience is shown to reside at the interface of military and academic identities, fostering levels of endurance that significantly contribute to scholarly accomplishment as well as protection from educational practices that marginalise this student population.
In this empirical study I assist in understanding the experiences of students during a time of profound change in higher education, significantly contributing to new epistemologies that describe how social disadvantage is experienced in the 21st century. More critically, this thesis makes a significant and original contribution to scholarship concerned with how qualities of resilience can foster academic flourishing.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Military personnel, British Army students, working class, resilience, higher education
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Dec 2014 14:52

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