Positioning Home for Resilience on Campus:First-Generation Students Negotiate Powerless/full Conditions in South African Higher Education

Andrea Alcock, Dina Zoe Belluigi

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Recognising the authoritative de/legitimising power of education systems, this paper contributes to studies concerned with the ways in which new entrants to higher education experience the positioning of their inherited identities as they negotiate their transition to campus life. The findings emerged during a broader psychosocial study of the transitions of seven first-generation students at a technical university in South Africa. The nature of their self-positioning was explored through an analysis of the positioning statements they articulated during photo-elicitation interviews. The university was positioned as a powerful institution, with conditions for both opportunity and alienation. Participants strongly identified with the professional community of practice in Art and Design. However, in relation to the urban campus context, the majority of participants positioned aspects of their home communities as deficit. A case
is made for creating conducive conditions that enable self-reflection on students’ transitional experiences and develop collective critical consciousness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number22(1)
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalEducation as change
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jul 2018
Publication statusEarly online date - 23 Jul 2018



  • Higher Education
  • first generation students
  • equity
  • identiy
  • art and design
  • belonging
  • transition
  • arts-based methods

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