Moving between the fields. On the role of family in the experiences of intergenerational upward mobility
More details
Hide details
Instytut Nauk Społecznych, Uniwersytet SWPS, Polska
Submission date: 2023-05-15
Final revision date: 2023-08-03
Acceptance date: 2023-08-28
Online publication date: 2023-10-12
Corresponding author
Justyna Kajta   

Instytut Nauk Społecznych, Uniwersytet SWPS, Chodakowska 19/31, 03-815, Warszawa, Polska
Problemy Polityki Społecznej 2023;61(2):1-22
Drawing on Bourdieu’s (1987) conceptual toolkit of capitals, fields, and habitus, this paper examines intergenerational upward mobility experiences in Poland focusing on the family's role. Specifically, this study uses grounded theory methodology (Glaser and Strauss, 1967, Charmaz, 2006) and biographical method (Schütze 1992) to investigate the life stories of individuals in their thirties and forties who have experienced upward mobility and entered one of three prestigious professional fields: academic, artistic, or business. The analysis of 30 biographical-narrative interviews reveals four main scenarios of parental involvement in upward mobility processes: (a) general encouragement, (b) ambition-driven guidance, (c) multifaceted withdrawal, and (d) hesitant observation. To illustrate the complexity of these scenarios, each one is accompanied by a biographical case study highlighting the interplay between various public and private factors that shape upward mobility paths. These cases also demonstrate the role of family capitals and their potential (mis)match with recognized capitals in specific professional fields.
Atkinson, W. (2021). Fields and individuals: From Bourdieu to Lahire and back again. European Journal of Social Theory, 24(2), 195–210.
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction. A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Harvard University Press.
Bourdieu, P. (1986). The Forms of Capital. In J. Richardson (ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. (241-258). Greenwood.
Bourdieu, P. (1987). What Makes a Social Class? On the Theoretical and Practical Existence of Groups. Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 32, 1–17.
Bourdieu, P. (1999). The Contradictions of Inheritance. In P. Bourdieu et al. The Weight of the Worlds. Social Suffering in Contemporary Society. (507-513). Stanford University Press.
Cebula, M. (2022). Inequality in social capital: assessing the importance of structural factors and cultural consumption for social advantage. A case from Poland, International Review of Sociology, 32(3), 501-528.
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory. A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. Sage.
Crew, T. (2020). Higher Education and Working-Class Academics. Palgrave Pivot.
Domański, H., Mach B.W., Przybysz, D. (2019). Otwartość polskiej struktury społecznej: 1982-2016. Studia Socjologiczne, 1(232), 25-63.
Domański, H., Przybysz, D., Wyrzykowska K.M. & Zawadzka, K. (2022). Praktyki wychowawcze a transmisja wzorów kulturowych. Kultura i Społeczeństwo, 2022(1), 123-148.
Friedman, S. (2016). Habitus clivѐ and the emotional imprint of social mobility. Sociological Review, 64, 129–147.
Gdula, M. & Sadura, P. (eds.). (2012). Style życia i porządek klasowy w Polsce. Scholar.
Glaser, B. & Strauss, A. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Strategies for Qualitative Research. Aldine Publishing Company.
Hanley, L. (2017). Respectable. Crossing the Class Divide. Penguine Books.
Helemäe, J., Saar, E. & Lauri, T. (2021). How Educational, Economic, and Cultural Resources Do Matter: Cohort Differences in the Impact of Parental Resources on Educational Attainment in the Socialist and Post-Socialist Contexts. International Journal of Sociology, 51(2), 105-134.
Jarosz, M. (2005). Wygrani i przegrani polskiej transformacji. Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN, Oficyna Naukowa.
Jin, J. & Ball, S. J. (2020). Meritocracy, Social Mobility and New Form of Class Domination. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 41 (1), 64-79.
Kwiek, M. (2013). From System Expansion to System Contraction: Access to Higher Education in Poland. Comparative Education Review, 57 (3), 553–576.
Lareau, A. 2011. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lessky, F., Nairz-Wirth, E. & Feldmann, K. (2021). Informational capital and the transition to university: First-in-family students' experiences in Austrian higher education. European Journal of Education, 56(1), 27–40.
Łuczaj, K. (2023). Upwardly Mobile Biographies. An analysis of turning points in the careers of working-class faculty. Advances in Life Course Research, 56, 100545.
Mallman, M. (2018). Disruption in the working-class family: the early origins of social mobility and habitus clivé. In S. Lawler & G. Payne (eds.), Social mobility for the 21st century: Everyone a winner? Routledge.
Mrozowicki, A. (2011). Coping with Social Change. Life Strategies of Workers in Poland’s New Capitalism. Leuven University Press.
Nowotny, H. (1981). Women in Public Life in Austria. In C.F. Epstein & R.L. Coser (eds.), Access to Power: Cross-National Studies of Women and Elites. George Allen and Unwin.
Pustulka, P. & Sarnowska. J. (2021). Educational choices of Polish youth in an intergenerational perspective. Journal of Education and Work, 34(4), 414-428.
Reay, D. (2005). Gendering Bourdieu's Concept of Capitals? Emotional Capital, Women and Social Class. Sociological Review, 52(s2), 57 – 74.
Reay D. (2018). Working class educational transitions to university: The limits of success. European Journal of Education, 53, 528–540.
Rek-Woźniak, M. (2016). Młodzi dorośli. Wzory ruchliwości społecznej w okresie transformacji systemowej. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego.
Sadura, P. (2017). Państwo, szkoła, klasy. Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej.
Sayer, A. (2005). The Moral Significance of Class. Cambridge University Press.
Schütze, F. (2012). Analiza biograficzna ugruntowana empirycznie w autobiograficznym wywiadzie narracyjnym. Jak analizować autobiograficzne wywiady narracyjne. In K. Kaźmierska (ed.), Metoda biograficzna w socjologii. (141-278). Nomos.
Seghers, M., Boone, S. & Van Avermaet, P. (2021). Classed patterns in the course and outcome of parent-teacher interactions regarding educational decision-making. Educational Review, 73(4), 417-435.
Słomczyński, K.M., Janicka, K., Shabad, G. & Tomescu-Dubrow, I. (2007). Changes in Class Structure in Poland, 1988-2003: Crystallization of the Winners—Losers' Divide. Polish Sociological Review, 1(157), 45-64.
Świrek, K. (2022). Klasa średnia i „choroba braku granic”. Praktyka Teoretyczna, 3(45), 339-359.
Ule, M., Živoder, A. & du Bois-Reymond, M. (2015). ‘Simply the best for my children’: patterns of parental involvement in education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 28(3), 329-348.
Zysiak, A. (2016). Punkty za pochodzenie. Powojenna modernizacja i uniwersytet w robotniczym mieście. Nomos.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top