Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Year of Publication


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Jane Jensen


Low-income, working-class (LI/WC) students entering spaces of higher education often face completely new social and cultural fields that do not match their prior experiences, requiring them to construct new conceptualizations of their habitus within those spaces—the way they internalize and interact with the world. However, a dearth of research exists on how these students’ conceptualizations of the social and physical spaces that make up their actual classroom and academic experiences play a role in how they come to form their new identities or habitus. This in-depth qualitative analysis of students’ habitus formation leverages Doreen Massey’s theoretical framework of critical spatiality as a lens to explore the ways in which students’ conceptualizations of first-year academic spaces—the combination of the physical, social, and cultural contexts that exist within a specific temporal moment in a specific physical space—effect the way they construct their college habitus. Using Biographical Narrative Interview Method, this study finds that despite similarities in their background, the unique combination of past experiences and present pedagogical decisions, relationships, and physical spaces creates a high level of variability for students in how they come to internalize their college habitus. Common experiences across students include unexpected variability within academic experiences, freedom of choice, and a shifting understanding of authority. The findings from this study suggest insights into methodological ways to explore spatiality and habitus and potential implications of how spatiality functions within the reproduction of larger cultural norms.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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