Solidarity and Subsidiarity—How to Widen Access to Higher Education?

  • Neil M. SpeirsEmail author
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


Bourdieu (The logic of practice. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1989) notes that ‘agents shape their aspirations according to concrete indices of the accessible and the inaccessible, of what is and is not ‘for us’.’ In order to affect positive change on the reproduction of what young learners see around them we require the employment of a critical pedagogy. Aspiration has been classified by some authors (Brown in ACME: Int E-J Critical Geogr 12(3):419–430, 2013) as a neoliberal social hope that detracts from the underlying class anchorage in the educational system. Despite this, a pedagogy that promotes belief and hope followed by informed action is vital in the chain of events and circumstances that can change the life trajectory of individuals. This paper will build on early notions of solidarity and subsidiarity as outlined by E.U. architects Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman. This will be used as a lens to consider the social responsibility that a university has to its local community, in particular with regards to educational achievement and positive destinations of widening participation students. It will look at the transitions & life events that such students from lower socio-economic status backgrounds may experience and how these sit as barriers to engagement, attainment and achievement. It will then consider how we can work with community to address and overcome some of these barriers.


Widening participation Social justice Solidarity Subsidiarity Critical pedagogy 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Widening ParticipationUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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