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Mirage in the Desert? Access to Educational Opportunities in an Area of Social Exclusion

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While for British policymakers the route out of social exclusion is paid work through the acquisition of educational qualifications, research shows that academic achievement in areas of social exclusion is often poor. Based on a study undertaken on an inner London council estate, this paper explores the experiences of a group of carers and their children's access to secondary school education. It demonstrates the importance of a geographical focus on inequality, and the need for a nuanced approach in explaining educational opportunities in socially excluded areas. It also counters the notion of working class people as an undifferentiated group, devoid of cultural capital, whilst at the same time acknowledging the structural constraints of place which limit the full exercise of agency, so that for many, the opportunities apparently open to them turn out to be illusory.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK;, Email:

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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