According to a 2010 study for the Hans-Böckler-Foundation, they prefer “shorter, more structured and application-oriented courses of study that have a practical, accessible job description.” (see link
Familiarity with certain structures, concepts, rituals and people of a particular milieu is what generates this security, which is why terms like success, courage and strength should always be discussed and reconsidered according to one’s starting conditions. “One can see what distinguishes the abstract information that a high school graduate from the lower and middle classes can obtain about scarce positions from a specialised counselling institution, from the familiarity that a child from the ruling class gains from dealing as a matter of course with people who hold these positions [...]” - as Bourdieu explains.³
When this kind of social advancement through the education system happens, Bourdieu describes the “rising stars” as “uncertain in their evaluations, half following their inclinations, half of their educational zeal.”⁴
Current debates about classism in the educational system are, among other things, the subject of the sociologist Andreas Kemper, who founded the first autonomous department for studying working-class children. In Klassismus im Bildungssystem: Zur virtuellen Gewalt des sich senkenden Blicks
(Classism in the Educational System: On the Virtual Violence of the Lowering Gaze), Kemper sketches class-related exclusions, as well as self-exclusion, bringing forward a study by Barbara Rothmüller (sociologist and philosopher) at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Rothmüller’s work underlines that, even before the entrance examination, the first barriers to entry were already in effect. Prospective students from migrant groups, children of workers or children whose parents had low educational qualifications were strongly underrepresented in comparison to the population and shares at other universities.⁵
In fact, applicants with a ‘low’ social background were very rarely admitted to The Institute of Art: “Even other courses of study known for their social homogeneity, such as medicine or law, were surpassed”. The reason is not only the cultural but also the social capital. The applicants lacked knowledge about particular application modalities, tips, and knowledge passed on by acquaintances who already studied at the university. The argument „intuitive knowledge and feeling for the composition and presentation of the works” to be tested in the examination phase constitutes, in Rothmüller’s view, something that needs revisiting since portfolio preparation and design are social processes, whereby 6 of 7 applicants spoke with teachers or acquaintances⁶
. According to the study from Hans-Böckler-Foundation, besides knowledge, applicants from ‘low’ backgrounds also fail during institutions’ selection procedures because of their low self-confidence and the lack of practice in self-presentation. (link
Kemper explains this self-exclusion of interested ‘low’ people (in terms of social origin) by means of the space of possibility or a topological pattern of thought in which the ‘university’ appears to be ‘high’.