Replacing the Misplaced: Power, Autobiography and Learner Identity

Tat Heung CHOI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article is concerned with examining how social class as a key aspect of learner identity is modified, reinforced or transformed through educational progressions, whereupon relationships change, power is redistributed and different forms of capital are prized. The dynamics between structural and cultural influences on working-class relationships to education are explored by way of autobiographical writing, and analysed through the lens of habitus and field. In operationalising habitus, the indeterminacy of the concept rejects a close, unproblematic connection between class and education, questions the assumed homogeneity of class dispositions, and renders a more fluid and dynamic working of class and learner identity. Arguing against the synchronic view of language characterised by regularity and internal consistency, this methodological orientation of habitus chimes with a textual approach that values inferential enrichment and indeterminacy. Using critical discourse in genre analysis offers space for potentially subversive interpretations, or for playing with evaluative meanings, of an autobiographical account rooted in the local and particular, but also sets great store in understanding constraining and transformative courses of action. This modest inquiry illuminates the relevance of autobiographical reflection to the development of agency and educational capital, with an emphasis on temporality, continuity and change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-60
Number of pages15
JournalPower and Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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