By Sarah McLaughlin, BA(Hons), MSC. PGCE, School of Education, University of Bristol (Doctorate in Education student)
Educating the Ritas – My research into the interaction between habitus and field for working class women on an Access to Higher Education (HE) course.
Willy Russell’s (1981) play ‘Educating Rita’ presents a biography of Rita – a white working-class woman who returns to education as a mature student and faces conflict with her sense of self as she embarks upon a journey of self-discovery and erudition. Rita has her eyes and mind opened through her studies yet struggles as she becomes aware of her social class identity, and her role as a working-class wife starts to conflict with the educated woman she emerges into. Rita’s social class identity is reconstructed, and she rejects the gender roles and expectations put upon her by her marriage and class. Rita struggles with how to inhabit her time at university compared to her time at home and at the pub with friends. This causes inner turmoil as she straddles two different worlds. For Rita, education provides power and emancipation but not without a struggle or crisis of identity. Rita’s story is familiar to many of my own students. (more…)