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Institutional commitment to widening participation: mission, rhetoric and framing

Graham, Claire Louise (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis is based upon a case study of six higher education institutions (HEIs) and their ‘framing’ of commitment to widening participation. Using elements of Fairclough’s (1995) critical discourse analysis, the thesis analyses the discursive strategies that the HEIs used to position their widening participation work in marketing literature and open day settings, as well as via policy documents and statements made by staff. Bernstein’s (1990) notions of classification and framing are applied as a framework for understanding how widening participation work is presented as part of a ‘whole institution’ approach to marketing. The thesis argues that the discursive strategies of the pre-92 HEIs suggested a highly contingent approach to widening participation. Strong framing around standards and selectivity was coupled with weak framing of widening participation. The post-92 HEIs evidenced stronger framing of widening participation but this was positioned alongside a recruitment-oriented discourse of persuasion. Government policy appeared to have had a limited effect in terms of changing existing institutional cultures. It is recommended that the government enforce tighter regulation around widening participation work in HEIs; ensuring that widening participation is embedded into institutional structures and that marketing literature and open day settings reflect this more accessible ethos.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:School of Education
Subjects:L Education (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1117
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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