This chapter reflects on an undergraduate dissertation study that explored the idea of school choice with parents from different socioeconomic backgrounds who were all connected through their son’s football team. The project became ‘lost’ when the author’s doctoral work took a different direction; however, this loss was not complete as there was an extended physical engagement with the research site, a social tapestry of ongoing connections, and a psychological and intellectual reflexive process that has both influenced and guided the author’s future studies and writing. The original study involved individual interviews with the boys’ parents, discussing the transition from junior school to secondary school. As well as some informal ethnographic observations of the football games and wider community activities. It employed the theory of reasoned action (TRA) and the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) to explore the extent to which parents have a ‘choice’ about their children’s education. The findings of the study supported the premise that there are pervasive forms of classed based inequalities in education and the idea of a ‘fallacy’ of school choice. The theoretical frameworks applied highlighted the ways in which ‘choice’ is constrained in relation to finance, place, class and ideas of belonging and community. The ‘lost’ project would have taken a longitudinal approach to follow the journeys of boys using multimodal forms of ethnography. The chapter argues that even though projects may be lost, they are not forgotten. It details how the author’s ideas for following up the football boys and the findings of the initial study have done, and continue to permeate the author’s thinking, research and understandings of place, class, stigma, constraint and the absence of choice for individuals and communities.
I would like to acknowledge the boys in the football team for the matches and the ways in which they helped me consider uneven playing fields; and all the participants in my following work, without whom there would be no research. Additionally, I am grateful for the support of Professor Valerie Walkerdine who supervised my undergraduate dissertation. Thanks are also due to the editors, Dr Sara Delamont and Dr Robin Smith, and to the anonymous reviewers for their supportive and encouraging comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.
Mannay, D. (2019), "What Happens When You Take Your Eye Off the Ball? Reflecting On a ‘Lost Study’ of Boys’ Football, Uneven Playing Fields and the Longitudinal Promise of
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited