The study presents a framework for investigating the powerful resources within learners’ educational biographies, which, from their own accounts, appear to influence their engagement with teaching and learning practices. The research framework stresses the material, social and cultural influences on a learner’s biography and the need for recognition as well as the redistribution of resources. It assumes that both socio-cultural influences as well as individual, affective and agentic phenomena play a role in shaping a student’s career. This framework is discussed in relation to a study undertaken at a South African university, at which 164 students, lecturers and academic support staff participated in semi-structured interviews. The main focus of the interview was the individual’s educational biography as narrated by the individual. The findings support the socio-cultural perspective and show that the relationship between identity, identification and feeling ‘at home’ with engagement in deep teaching and learning, is both complex and uneven.
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