With the help of the Graduate School and Department of Sociology, I was given the opportunity to present my work at the first BSA International Bourdieu Conference hosted in Barcelona. This was a 3-day conference that was filled with such thought-provoking research and great company.
I arrived in Barcelona the day before the conference and managed to do some sightseeing before the conference began. It was very hot, so I limited my sightseeing to Casa Batllo, Las Ramblas and La Boqueria Market. I got a pizza for one and had an early night to prepare for the start of the conference.
On the morning of the first day of the conference I met two other PhD students from Chile and Leeds. It was great to hear about their research and experiences as a PhD student. The conference kicked off which resulted in a very full but insightful day. Lunch was provided by El Llindar, an organisation that provides opportunities for young people who are excluded from the education and social system, which I felt was a nice touch for a Bourdieu conference focusing on educational inequalities. Due to the heat, me, and the other PhD student I met from Leeds sat in the conference room in the air con to cool down. Here, she introduced me to two other staff members from Manchester Met. We chatted away and next minute the conference session was about to begin. I didn’t plan to attend this session, but now I was committed, and it was the best session I attended all week.
Nicola Ingram and Paul Holmes presented their work trying to bring Sociology and Psychology together using vector theory. I thought this was great, and as I am a sociologist specialising in quantitative methods, I saw the application and similarities to my own work. They faced a few challenges from other academics by trying to bring the disciplines together, however it excited me how these concepts seemed to work and made sense (to me anyway).
The second day was presentation day for me. I presented how I use Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and capital to research Mathematical inequalities by building a multi-level model. This gained the interest of many in the room and throughout the day I had people coming up to me asking about my research and the interest in bringing together Bourdieu’s concepts and applying them to Mathematical inequalities. My first presentation at an international conference – done!
In the evening, I attended the social dinner. This was a great way to get to know people more personally and have some downtime. What a great bunch of people!
On the last day of the conference, Diane Reay was the closing keynote– what an inspirational woman! From a working-class woman in academia, to a working-class woman starting out in academia. She spoke about her experience as a working-class woman and the struggles she faced throughout her time at university where she wasn’t taken seriously due to her social class background, and how throughout her academic journey she has faced many challenges too. She spoke with the quote from Bourdieu ‘what society has done, it can, armed with this knowledge, undo’ as part of her motivation. As a Sociologist, this is the reason I do this research and why I am so passionate about it: the opportunity for social change. But, I leave you with this photo to understand the struggles still in society today.
After the conference, I had some time to explore more of Barcelona and spend time with people I had met. This conference was a great opportunity to develop my PhD and gain networks with people around the world who have similar research interests. From this conference some new opportunities have arisen. One is to write a paper with another academic I met at the conference. Another is that I have been invited to be a guest lecturer at the University of Oxford to talk about quantitative methods and social science, and lastly the networks I have gained with people from Manchester Met, nationally and globally to keep coming together and keep the Bourdieu study group alive.