The scholars of cultural reproduction have argued that the gap between the knowledge structure of school curriculum and the reasoning ability of working class students functions as the crucial element in impeding their academic achievements. For the researchers of the CCCS, such a failure tends to lead to the development of a counter-school culture. Working class people intend to maintain their collective identity through the strategy of self-decision, enabling them to reverse their dominated status in the power structure of capitalist society. Although the above theories spotlight the interaction between this student group and structural constraints, the structural-led approach makes these academics focus on the scope of defense mechanism triggered by coercively structural constraints and, in turn, the influence of individualized agency on such an interaction remains unknown. Agency may unleash them from the rigid linkage between structural imposition and passive obedience. Accordingly, this study was designed to explore how underachieving working students actively survived in classrooms.
Keywords: underachieving working class students, cultural hegemony, counter-school culture, ceiling theory, structural constraint, agency