Exploring Boys’ Agency Towards Higher Education: The Case of Urban Jamaica

Shawanda Stockfelt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


This chapter looks at Jamaican boys’ aspirations towards higher education in relation to their personal experiences and histories shaped by social structures and groups within their educational field. It engages with Bourdieu’s theory of practice to explore boys’ personal agencies towards higher education through systems of power relations within their sociocultural contexts. Boys are grossly underrepresented in higher educational institutions in Jamaica and across the English-speaking Caribbean. The sociological and historical explanations include a gendered educational system favored towards girls, crime and Black male-hegemony. At the risk of overgeneralization, these explanations, though relevant, tend to place boys in a “victim” mode, as agents without voices. This outlook is explored through a qualitative study analyzing the narratives of 64 participants affiliated with two schools in urban Jamaica. The findings present boys as both active citizens of their own agency and “victims” of relations of power within wider social structures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation and Youth Agency
Subtitle of host publicationQualitative Case Studies in Global Contexts
EditorsJoan DeJaeghere , Jasmina Josic, Kate McCleary
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783319333441
ISBN (Print)9783319333427
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameAdvancing Responsible Adolescent Development
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Print)2195-089X


  • Agency
  • Aspirations
  • Cultural capital
  • Jamaica


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