from an extended working class Vietnamese family with a large number of
half and full siblings. Material resources were very limited and Su
generally relied on hand outs from her mother (herself on benefits).
Emotionally she drew on her mother, close friends and later her gran
for support. Su’s identity is complex. Her early social life was shaped
by an identification with Vietnamese culture yet she embraced
Britishness, seeing herself as more British than Vietnamese.
Emotionally immature but street smart and well networked, Su at 16 was
a combination of vulnerability and independence. Academically bright
but with very little encouragement from college she passed her BTec in
performing arts with a Distinction but, pessimistic about career
prospects, gave up her dreams in favour of hairdressing. At 17, and now
somewhat estranged from her family, Su was with a two-timing boyfriend
who she finally left to go into a hostel, then a bedsit with plans to
get a permanent flat. Nearly two years later she was surviving on job
seekers allowance, struggling with rent arrears and waiting for a
hairdressing apprenticeship but wiser and more mature as a result of
her disappointing relationship. Since then she has been rethinking her
life, meanwhile working a little in a café, and hoping to get a larger
flat to accommodate her younger brother, who has left home and moved in
with her. Her potential for social mobility is good and despite her
circumstances, her determination and sense of educational achievement
may bear out her conviction that she ‘can go far’.