31. juli 2012

Exploring the heterogeneity of class in higher education: social and cultural differentiation in Danish university programmes

Article by Jens Peter Thomsen in British Journal of Sociology of Education, Volume 33, Issue 4, 2012.


This paper examines the relationship between social background, choice of university programme and academic culture among Danish university students. Statistically and sociologically, university students are often treated as a homogeneous group, but the ever-increasing number of students in higher education demands a closer examination of the hidden heterogeneity in the students’ social origin and educational strategies. Using a mixed-method approach (register data and ethnographic observations and interviews) the paper focuses on the students’ class origins and on different cultural practices in three Danish university programmes. It is shown that the Danish university field is characterized by a significant variation in social selectivity from programme to programme, and it is argued that these different social profiles correspond with distinctively different cultural practices in the programmes. Correspondingly, the students have distinctively different strategies towards education and future work life.

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