A subculture is a group within wider society, that has significantly different norms, attitudes and values to other groups in society
Class: Willis argued that class divisions in the wider society let to the working class forming an anti-school subcultre.
Willis studied 12 working class boys in a comprehensive school and found that the lads formed a 'counter-school culture' or anti-school subcultre which OPPOSED the school values.
They disliked school and did not think that it would prepare them for the occupation that they were most likely to get. Therefore, they were not motivated, they misbehaved, etc
This shows that WORKING CLASS boys received less status amongst wider society and so the subculture they belonged in resulted in them FAILING.
AO2: Willis's study can be criticised for being based on a small sample of 12 boys only. This means we CANNOT GENERALISE and assume that all working-class boys formed a deviant subcultre. Some w/c boys may have wanted to do well at school and polcies such as Sure Start and Education Maintanance Allowance has motivated them to do well. Therefore, his study lacks external validity
Pupil Subculture: Gender
Boys: Mac and Ghaill looked at a sample of boys in a secondary school and he claimed that the boys formed different types of subcultes.
- The 'Macho lads' was formed by boys who opposed the values of the school and did not listen to teachers because they did not care about school and could not wait until they could get a job. This caused them to underachieve
- The 'Academic achievers' was a pro-school subcultre formed by boys who believed that working -hard and putting in the effort means that they can achieve great results and they can become upwardly mobile.
They usually did WELL at school but some underachieved because the 'macho lads' bullied them for working too hard and appearing like 'geeks'
- 'Real Englishmen' was a pro-school scubcultre formed by a group of MIDDLE CLASS pupils from highly educated backgrounds and so valued education and achieved well
AO2: However, boys did NOT just form pro and anti-school subcultres at school and DIFFERENT subcultures can also be formed. For example, gay students can form their own subcultre because they were CRITICAL of homophobia in school.
Also, Mac and Ghaills study is based on a small ethnographic study-we CANNOT GENERALISE and assume that all boys belong or form a subculure.
Pupil Subculture: Girls, sets and ethnicity
Girls can also form anti-school subcultres but they are less aggressive than the subcultures formed by males.
Davies, in a Canadian study found that they formed an anti-school subcultre and focused on TRADITIONAL FEMINIME ROLES. The girls in the study were OPPOSED to school and prioritized other non-school related things, such as relationships, child-rearing and households duties.
Therefore, they ended up underachieving becuase they did not focus on school enough to be be able to attain good enough grades.
Sets and Streams: Hargreaves found that students placed in lower streams and sets by teachers felt as though they were not receiving the status they deserved by teachers. Therefore, they formed their own deviant subculture where they GAIN STATUS amongst their PEERS by misbehaving and therefore underachieve.
Ethnicity: Sewell found that African- Carriebans students experienced racism. Some students were 'conformists' and they tried to look past the racist comments in order to achieve well. Other students were 'rebels', formed an anti-school subcultre and were aggressively masculine. They were most likely to be excluded from school so underachieved.
Evalutation of pupil subcultres
However, it is NOT just the subculture that results in underachievment and it is important to look at other reasons WHY pupils fail
- Interactionist sociologists argue that FAILURE is as a result of students being NEGATIVELLY LABELLED at school. For example, Becker et al found that working class students were neg labelled and seen as deviant and lazy. This resulted in them being placed in lower streams because they didnt think they would achieve the 5 A*-C grades.
Similalry, Gillborn and Youdell argue that ethnics are negativelly labelled, escpecially African-Caribbens. Negative labelling resuted in SELF-FULFILLING prohecies to be created where students had their esteem lowered and they underachieved
- Curriculum: Students may also underachieve because of what they are taught in school. Tikly et al found that the curriculum was ETHNOCENTIC i.e. focused on european languages and slavery. Also, subjects such as history does not connect with the cultural experience of working class students since they learn about ruling class- underachieve
- Language: Haque and Ball argued that ethnics maybe culturally deprived i.e. they dont speak language to do well at school and parents may send them to lower schools. Bernstein also claimed that w/c students were brought up with RESTRICTED CODE which meant they did less well