Educational Upward Mobility from precarious backgrounds: Studying as a process of ontological assurance

Antonia Kupfer


This article argues that education which gives leeway and sources to seek truth enables upward social mobility. Students who have experienced a large degree of precariousness in their childhoods and youths are able to find assurance through studying in universities that provide scope for seeking truth. Therefore, the organisation of universities is crucial for social upward mobility. At the example of three reconstructed life histories gained through biographical-narrative interviews with university graduates from working classes in England and Austria, relations between seeking truth and gaining ontological assurance are explained and demonstrated. The design of higher education institutions is crucial for providing scope of seeking truth. Therefore, four suggestions for a change of universities towards inclusive education institutions covering the creation of study programs, staff and student body, higher education policies and finance are offered.


educational upward mobility, ontological assurance, truth seeking, working-class students, higher education policy

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