Colonial Privileges in a Settler Society: Disparities of Cultural Capital in a University Setting

David Mayeda, Tepora Pukepuke, Alan France, Lucy Cowie, Marilyn Chetty


Drawing on forty one-on-one interviews with third year students from The University of Auckland, this study contrasts the experiences of students from working- and upper-class backgrounds. In particular, the study demonstrates how working-class students, most of whom come from Indigenous Māori and Pacific ethnic backgrounds, are forced to navigate obstacles infused with interpersonal and institutional racism. These students also report a stigmatising awareness of their lack of privilege and sense of obligation to give back to their ethnic communities. In contrast students from upper-class backgrounds, though hard-working, discuss a litany of opportunities extending their academic and occupational privilege. These capital-building opportunities are tightly connected to consistent family support in the form of gifted money, flexible work options, and networks that enhance professional experience. Working with kaupapa Māori and Bourdeausian conceptual frameworks, the study highlights privileged students’ ability to access and extend their objectified cultural capital, as less economically privileged students work their way through colonial blockades and classed pitfalls. Given the clear disparities expressed by study participants, the research suggests universities radically reframe how resources are allocated to students from diverse backgrounds.


Colonialism, privilege, Māori, Pacific, university, cultural capital

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IJRS - International Journal of Roma Studies | ISSN:2462-425X

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