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Wednesday, December 9 • 3:50pm - 4:20pm
Social Networks: The Invisible Boundary of Education

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Community binds, but community also serves a boundary function. The latter is much less understood in the education context than the former. Canadian education is socially mediated. Not only is social interaction/connection a built-in element of the teaching/learning process, it is also a channel by which resources and opportunities are transmitted. However, social connection tends to be thought of individualistically, as if it is purely a personal choice. Yet gaining access to social networks is a negotiation process in which social differences, such as race, class, and gender, are often magnified and reproduced. This makes social connection a fertile ground for understanding how social boundaries are enacted to reproduce privilege and marginalization. In this presentation, I draw on my doctoral study that examines Chinese students’ experience in six Canadian post-secondary education institutions. Parts of the findings about students’ experience in micro-level interaction, which is integral to the education process, speak to social connection as the invisible boundary that shapes participation, opportunity, aspiration and trajectory. I focus on Bourdieu’s concepts of culture and transubstantiation. Culture makes visible the less perceptible boundary mechanisms embedded in the implicit system of meanings and values that underpins the Western learning culture. Transubstantiation underscores how cultural mediation of social connection reproduces inequity. This presentation stimulates thinking about the presumed neutral and benign role social interaction/connection plays in the education process. Making visible the invisible boundary of social interaction/connection has implications on building capacities for both instructors and students.


Winnie Lo

McMaster University

Wednesday December 9, 2015 3:50pm - 4:20pm EST
Meeting Room B

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