Blackpool, the Land of Opportunity?
: A critical ethnographic study of the designation of Blackpool as an ‘Opportunity Area’ examining the impact of place, policy, and power, using a Bourdieusian approach.

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Blackpool was designated as one of six ‘opportunity areas’ in England in October 2016. The consequence of this is that extra investment has been made available, by the government, to schools within Blackpool, to try to raise standards for disadvantaged students. The number of designated areas has subsequently risen to twelve. The Department for Education has responded to the challenges faced by some of the most deprived areas in the country by providing greater practical and financial support. As a result of this, the Blackpool Opportunity Area Board identified three priorities for Blackpool schools; raising attainment and progress, improving attendance, and reducing exclusions and providing greater support and advice for young people in between school and college / work.

My research investigates the experiences of twelve professionals working in Blackpool with roles linked to education and the local authority. Drawing upon a theoretical framework highly influenced by Pierre Bourdieu, my aim is to gain a better understanding of the complex nature of educational policy and particularly how policy is implemented. I have demonstrated how the theoretical concepts of Bourdieu can be productively utilised in policy sociology within education, and how his conceptual tools can be helpful when researching and understanding education policy. The research has been conducted from a critical theoretical perspective and I have examined how issues relating to habitus, capital and field can affect policy, and how a study of the policy process can help me understand how solutions, but also further problems can be created with the formulation of new policies, and to identify why progressive change has been difficult to achieve.
Date of Award28 Mar 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorDAVID ALLAN (Director of Studies), VICKY DUCKWORTH (Supervisor) & Ian Shirley (Supervisor)


  • education policy
  • social justice
  • socio-economic disadvantage
  • Bourdieu
  • social capital
  • inclusion
  • marginalisation
  • poverty
  • deprivation

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