This study is based on 18 interviews; almost all participants were from working-class families and all obtained university degrees, 12 in Austria and six in England. The term working class is used here to describe people whose parents are included in categories 7–10 of the European Socio-economic Classification (ESeC; see Institute for Social and Economic Research, 2013), ranging from lower-grade white collar to semi-skilled and unskilled workers and long-time unemployed. Since the ESeC focuses on occupation, and education informs an individual’s socioeconomic status, educational lev’els are included in our definition of working class. Only educational achievers whose parents’ educational qualifications stop at the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level 3 — in England, the Higher Education Access Courses level and, in Austria, secondary-level vocational education — are included in this study (UNESCO, 2013). In short, working class refers here to people in lower occupational positions with educational qualifications below tertiary level and to their children. I am aware of the lengthy discussion of the term and the difficulties of clearly categorizing it as a social group. Instead, I adopt this rather technical definition because it is used in statistics to count the number of working-class people in higher education.
KeywordsEducational Qualification International Standard Classification Narrative Interview Biographical Data Interview Text
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