Affective Economies of Indebtedness in Graduate Lives

Ghaffar, Farhana (2023) Affective Economies of Indebtedness in Graduate Lives. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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In 2012, annual university tuition fees in England trebled to £9,000; over a decade on, English graduates have amongst the highest levels of student debt globally. There is, however, limited research exploring indebtedness, caused by increased tuition fees, amongst graduates from the £9,000+ fee regime as they experience everyday (post)graduate life. This thesis is an examination of the ‘affects’ produced by the indebtedness caused by increased tuition fees for undergraduates in England from 2012. It considers the backdrop of the 07/08 Global Financial Crisis and subsequent austerity measures alongside HE funding policies and discourses which promise social mobility and a ‘graduate premium’.

Drawing upon a narrative inquiry approach and in-depth interviews with five graduates, this thesis is a story of the stories surrounding HE concerning the ‘promise’ of social mobility and indebtedness. Through the lens of Sara Ahmed’s theory of ‘affective economies’, it explores how affective economies of ‘happiness’, ‘fear’ and ‘shame’ work in the gap between political, social and individual imaginaries of graduate success and the reality of graduates’ everyday lived experiences of indebtedness. As such, this thesis illuminates the shifting qualities of this ‘indebtedness’, and its diverse implications, by revealing not only how it is made present in everyday life, but how it shapes graduates’ senses of the future.

In drawing upon affective methodologies, this study makes a novel theoretical and methodological contribution to the largely quantitative field of research on graduate experiences of student debt. It illuminates the affective heft of student debt in graduate lives as it is carried over time and unfolds and spills into past and future decision-making. By bringing to light new insights into the affective experiences of indebtedness in contemporary graduate life, this study aims to not only challenge academic and public perceptions of it, but to inform our ability to intervene in new ways at institutional and policy level.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2024 09:34
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2024 09:34

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