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


  • Antonia Kupfer Technical University Dresden, Germany


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


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.

Author Biography

Antonia Kupfer, Technical University Dresden, Germany

Institute of Sociology

Professor of Macrosociology






Reflections, Journeys and Case Studies