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Article
Publication date: 14 March 2016

Garth Stahl and Sam Baars

The purpose of this paper is to consider how working-class boys constitute themselves as subjects of “value” through a close examination of their occupational aspirations…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to consider how working-class boys constitute themselves as subjects of “value” through a close examination of their occupational aspirations. The authors consider two significant influences on the aspirations of these young men: “space” and “place”; and neoliberal discourses which privilege a particular concept of individualized personhood. Contending with neoliberal conceptions of personhood and aspiration (that are primarily competitive, economic, and status based), working-class and working-poor young men either align themselves with the “entrepreneurial” or “aspirational” self or face the label of “low aspirations”.

Design/methodology/approach

Employing space and place as conceptual lenses allows for a nuanced understanding of how aspirations are formed (and reformed) according to immediate locale. To explore the identity negotiations surrounding the occupational aspirations of working-class males, the authors draw on two qualitative research studies in deprived neighbourhoods located in South Manchester and South London.

Findings

Based on the evidence as well as the wider research concerning working-class males and occupational aspirations, the authors argue that aspirations are formed in a contested space between traditional, localized, classed identities and a broader neoliberal conception of the “aspirational” rootless self.

Research limitations/implications

This study focuses on aspiration formation in two specific neighbourhoods, and caution should be taken when generalizing the findings beyond these area contexts.

Originality/value

This study problematizes the literature generated by government bodies and educational institutions regarding working-class youth as having a “poverty of aspirations”. Additionally, value lies in the cross-reference of two specific geographic areas using the conceptual lens of space and place.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 58 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 September 2022

Kamil Luczaj

The overarching question of this paper is, “What are the advantages of being an upwardly mobile academic?” The extant academic research on working-class academics has…

Abstract

Purpose

The overarching question of this paper is, “What are the advantages of being an upwardly mobile academic?” The extant academic research on working-class academics has usually emphasized various kinds of “deficits” of working-class academics. In this paper, the author demonstrates that although class positions can constitute a formidable burden, they can translate into specific advantages in academia.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on the narrative, phenomenological approach, which has been applied in working-class studies and higher-education research. The empirical material comprises the collection of 25 narrative interviews conducted and analyzed according to the biographical narrative interpretive method (BNIM).

Findings

This paper looks at the experience of working-class academics from a holistic perspective, including both the downsides and upsides of being an “outsider within,” or “insider without.” It uncovers four assets of a working-class background – referred to as “navigational capital,” “revolutionary potential,” “wisdom” and a distinct “working-class pedagogy.”

Practical implications

The working-class pedagogy can be turned into support programs for working-class individuals. Their navigational capital can foster evolutionary changes and small improvements for the benefit of the entire academic community. Their revolutionary dispositions can trigger major reforms, and their unique experiences can be utilized as case studies in teaching.

Originality/value

This paper engages with the literature on the cultural mismatch and cleft habitus in the academic context. It analyzes the positive but rarely discussed aspects of being an upwardly mobile academic with a working-class background. By recognizing these unique assets, it engages with the literature on inclusive universities and can help make higher education more inclusive and sustainable.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Black Youth Aspirations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80262-025-2

Abstract

Details

Working-Class Schooling in Post-Industrial Britain
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-469-1

Article
Publication date: 8 July 2014

Christopher Deeming

Our attitudes, values and tastes are shaped by our position in social space. At least, that was the argument Pierre Bourdieu set out in his seminal work, La Distinction

2410

Abstract

Purpose

Our attitudes, values and tastes are shaped by our position in social space. At least, that was the argument Pierre Bourdieu set out in his seminal work, La Distinction. The purpose of this paper is to consider Bourdieu's theory of cultural reproduction and his argument that working-class families exhibit cultural attitudes and tastes for social necessity.

Design/methodology/approach

Attitudinal data relating to social necessity are taken from a national social survey of the British population. The results provide a rich source of data for exploring classed attitudes towards necessity in contemporary Britain.

Findings

Bourdieu's original claims for working-class “choice of the necessary” and working-class “taste for necessity” are based on his observations grounded in social survey evidence drawn from 1960s French society. Analysis of contemporary British social survey and attitudinal data also reveals sharp contours and differences in attitudes and tastes according to class fractions. These are evident in classed tastes and preferences for food, clothes, the home and social life.

Social implications

Within the Bourdieusian theoretical framework, we understand that the tastes of necessity are preferences that arise as adaptations to deprivation of necessary goods and services. La Distinction and Bourdieu's approach to unmasking inequalities and structures in social space continue to be relevant in contemporary Britain. More generally, study findings add to the growing evidence that casts some doubt on current arguments concerning “individualisation”, claiming that social class has ceased to be significant in modern societies.

Originality/value

This paper sheds fresh light on the empirical validity and continuing theoretical relevance of Bourdieu's work examining the role of social necessity in shaping working-class culture. Bourdieu argues that the real principle of our preferences is taste and for working-class families, this is a virtue made of necessity.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 34 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 11 February 2021

Tatiana Gavrilyuk

This article aims to explore the dominant normative patterns that establish the timing and order of life events, determining the desirable life strategies for working-class

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to explore the dominant normative patterns that establish the timing and order of life events, determining the desirable life strategies for working-class youth in modern Russia.

Design/methodology/approach

Exploring the interrelationship between new working-class studies and life-course studies, this research combines the consideration of life course as a structurally organised integrity with a phenomenological perspective on the study of life strategies. The empirical basis of research consists of a survey of 1532 young working-class representatives living in the Ural Federal District of Russia and biographical in-depth interviews with 31 of them.

Findings

The study resulted in persisting significance and values of traditional life-course structures while showing that the current social conditions do not allow for this life strategy to be fulfilled. Young workers choose adaptation and survival life strategies that restrict the realisation of their professional and cultural potential. The obtained data have confirmed the presence of some worldwide tendencies, such as the dispersion of events during transition to adulthood, a combination of schooling and full-time work and an earlier career start of working-class representatives.

Originality/value

The sequencing and timing of life-course events of Russian working-class youth is an original research topic. The present study proposes and substantiates the notion of the new working class and criteria for its definition.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 41 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 22 February 2017

Garth Stahl

In terms of education attainment in the United Kingdom, the white working class remains the lowest performing ethnic group, and their academic underperformance has ominous…

Abstract

In terms of education attainment in the United Kingdom, the white working class remains the lowest performing ethnic group, and their academic underperformance has ominous implications for their long-term life chances. This chapter investigates how white working-class boys experience pathologization and deficit discourses in their schooling as they negotiate the discipline structures in three educational sites in South London (two state comprehensive schools and one Pupil Referral Unit). Drawing upon empirical data from an in-depth sociological study of 23 white working-class boys (Stahl, 2015), this chapter makes theoretical connections between how pathologization – both within the school and wider society – contributes to how these young men become constructed with and through deficit discourses contributing significantly toward low academic achievement. Where whiteness often equates to power and entitlement, in the schooling contexts of this study whiteness was often socially constructed as undesirable and equated with low aspirations, stagnation, and antieducational stances.

Details

The School to Prison Pipeline: The Role of Culture and Discipline in School
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-128-6

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 3 June 2014

Andreas George Giazitzoglu

The Drifters are ten long-term unemployed British men. The Drifters’ unemployment is consensual: the men believe they have chosen to “not work” and rely upon welfare…

1139

Abstract

Purpose

The Drifters are ten long-term unemployed British men. The Drifters’ unemployment is consensual: the men believe they have chosen to “not work” and rely upon welfare benefits for their socio-economic survival. The purpose of this paper is to present micro sociological analysis of the Drifters’ existences which focuses upon first, exploring why the Drifters’ consensual unemployment has resulted in them experiencing high levels of stigma in their everyday lives; second, analysing the Drifters’ (micro) relationships with (macro) unemployment policies.

Design/methodology/approach

Primary, qualitative data were elicited from the Drifters during two phases of fieldwork. In both phases of fieldwork, the author conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews and participant observation-based research with the Drifters to generate data on how the men subjectively experience and account for the intersection of consensual non-work, welfare reliance and stigma in their lives.

Findings

In the pseudonymous locale where the Drifters reside (Dramen) displaying a willingness to work is – despite high rates of local unemployment – a social expectation and marker of “respectable” masculinity. By living lives of consensual non-work and welfare reliance, the Drifters violate a localised cultural code and are accordingly stigmatised. Rather than attempting to manage their stigma, the Drifters ritually indulge in secondary deviant behaviours. This amplifies the Drifters’ statuses as reviled agents. The Drifters lack employment options. The Drifters have been able to successfully exploit unemployment benefits. Accordingly, the Drifters’ non-work is somewhat inevitable, rather than lamentable, as many citizens in Dramen believe; and as wider current right-leaning political and media rhetoric relating to unemployment implies.

Originality/value

Examinations into the lives of non-consensually unemployed males exist. However, the lives of males who are unemployed apparently consensually – i.e. out of choice – remain under-researched. This paper functions as a micro empirical corrective, which diversifies the way male unemployment in capitalist societies can be viewed; and which offers a fresh look at how proposed unemployment welfare reform may impact the Drifters and the group in British society which the Drifters represent more broadly.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 34 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Selling Our Youth
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-239-4

Book part
Publication date: 10 November 2021

Botshabelo Maja

Abstract

Details

Black Youth Aspirations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80262-025-2

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