Sociology Studies

  • Created by: Beyonce
  • Created on: 11-03-16 20:44

Paul Willis (1977)

Theme: Education; Pupils; Learning to labour; Paul Willis (1977)

Research methods link: Participant oberservation/Unstructured interviews

Key points:

  • Willis studied the counter-culture culture of 'the lads' - a group of 12 working-class boys - as they make the transition from school to work.
  • At school, the boys form a distinct counter-culture opposed to the school, are scornful of the conformist boys, find school boring and meaningless, flout the rules and values, display acts of defiance as ways of resisting the school, reject the school's meritocrstic ideology that working-class pupils can achieve middle-class job through hard work.
  • He notes the similiarity between the lads' anti-school counter-culture and the shopfloor culture of male manual workers.
  • Both cultures see manual work as superior, and intellectual work as inferior and efferminate
  • The lads identify strongly with male manual work
  • Explains why the lads' counter-culture of resistance to school helps them to slot into the very jobs - inferior in terms of skill, pay and conditions - that capitalism needs someone to perform
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David Hargreaves (1967)

Themes: Education; Pupils; Labelling/Pupils subculture; Hargreaves

Research methods link: Observations

Key points:

  • From the point of view of the education system, boys in the lower streams were triple failures: they had failed their 11+ exam; they had been placed in low streams; and they had been labelled as worthless 'louts'.
  • A solution to their problem was for these pupils to seek eachother out and form a group within which high status went to those who flouted the school's rules. In this way, they formed a delinquent subculture that helped to guarantee their educational failure.
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Theme: Education; Pupils; Pupil subculture; Furlong

Research methods link: Observation

Key points:

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Louise Archer et al (2010)

Themes: Education; Pupils; Public subculture/Class inequalities/Labelling; Louise Archer et al (2010)

Research methods link: Observations and interviews

Key points:

  • Focus on the interaction between working-class pupils' identities and school, and how this produces underachievement.
  • Draw on Bourdieu's (1984) concept of habitus.
  • Working-class pupils felt unable to access 'posh', middle-class spaces such as uni and professional careers, which they claim weren't 'for the likes of us'.
  • Found that working-class pupils felt that to be educationally successful, they would have to change how they talked and presented themselves.
  • Working-class pupils suffer from symbolic violence because schools value the middle-class habitus the most, making them feel worthless. In response, working-class pupils wear brands, e.g. Nike, as a way of being themselves. The right appearance gained symbolic capital, approval from peer groups and brought safety from bullying. This leads to conflict with the schools' dress code. Reflecting the school's middle-class habitus, teachers opposed 'street' styles as showing 'bad taste' or even as a threat. Pupils who adopted street styles risked being labelled as rebels.
  • Working-class pupils' investment in 'Nike' identities is not only a cause of their educational marginalisation by the school; it also expresses their positive preference for a particular lifestyle. As a result, working-class pupils may choose self-elimination or self-exclusion from education
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Colin Lacey (1970)

Themes: Education; Pupils; Labelling/Pupil subculture; Colin Lacey (1970)

Research methods link: Participant observations

Key points:

  • Immersed himself in school life at Hightown boys' grammar school; teaching, observing lessons, helping with the cricket team, going on school trips.
  • Introduced concepts of differentiation (process of teachers categorising pupils according to how they perceive their ability) and polarisation (process in which pupils respond to streaming by moving towards one of two opposite 'poles' of extremes) (pro-school subculture and anti-school subculture) to explain how pupil subcultures develop.
  • Pupils placed in high streams (who are largely MC) tend to remain committed to the values of school and gain their status in the approved manner through academic sucess; they tend to form a pro-school subculture.
  • Pupils placed in low streams (who are largely WC) suffer a loss of self-esteem: the school has undermined their self-worth by placing them in a position of inferior status. This label of failure pushes them to search for alternative ways of gaining status; they form an anti-school subculture as a means of gaining status among peers, e.g. by smoking. The negative consequence of this is that joining an anti-school subculture is likely to become a self-fufillling prophecy of educational failure.
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Nicola Ingram (2009)

Themes: Education; Pupils; Pupil class identity; Nicola Ingram (2009)

Key points:

  • Studied two groups of working-class Catholic boys from the same highly deprived neighbourhood in Belfast
  • One group had passed their 11+ exam and gone to a grammar school with a strongly middle-class habitus of high expectations and academic achievement
  • The other group had failed their 11+ exam and gone to a local secondary school with a habitus of low expectations of its underachieving pupils
  • Found that having a working-class identity was inseparable from belonging to a working-class locality; the neighbourhood's dense networks of family and friends were a key part of the boys' habitus (street culture and branded sportwear) - it gave them an intense feeling of belonging
  • Working-class communities place great emphasis on conformity; the boys experienced a great pressure to 'fit in' and this was a particular problem for the grammar school boys, who experienced a tension between the habitus of their working-class neighbourhood and that of their middle-class school
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Andrew Parker (1996)

Themes: Education; Pupils; Sexual and gender identities; Andrew Parker (1996)

Key points:

  • Found that boys were labelled gay simply for being friendly with girls or female teachers
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Sue Lees (1993)

Themes: Education; Pupils; Sexual and gender identities; Sue Lees (1993)

Key points:

  • Identifies a double standard of sexual morality in which boys boast about their own sexual exploits, but call a girl 'a sl*g' if she doesn't have a steady boyfriend or if she dresses and speaks in a certain way
  • Sexual conquest is approved of and given status by male peers and ignored by male teachers, but 'promiscuity' among girls attracts negative labels
  • Labels given bear no relation to pupil's actual sexual behaviour. Their function is simply to reinforce gender norms and identities
  • Found that boys called girls 'sl*gs' if they appeared to be sexually available - and 'drags' if they didn't
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Mac and Ghaill (1994)

Themes: Education; Pupils; Sexual and gender identities; Mac and Ghaill (1994)

Key points:

  • Study of Parnell school
  • Examined how peer groups reproduce a range of different class-based masculine gender identities, e.g. the working-class 'mucho lads' were dismissive of other working-class boys who worked hard and aspired to middle-class careers, and by contrast, middle-class 'real englishmen' projected an image of 'effortless achievement' - of succeeding without trying
  • Found that the dominant definition of masculine identity changes from that of the macho lads in the lower school to that of the real Englishmen in the sixth form; this represents a shift away from a working-class definition based on toughness to a middle-class one based on intellectual ability, reflecting the more middle-class composition and atmosphere of the sixth form
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Mac and Ghaill (1997)

Themes: Education; Pupils; Sexual and gender identity; M&G

Key points:

  • Refer to the 'male gaze'; the way male pupils and teachers look girls up down, seeing them as sexual objects and making judgements about their appearance
  • See the 'male gaze' as a form of surveillance through which dominant hetrosexual masculinity is reinforced and feminity devalued; it is one of the ways boys prove their masculinity to their friends and is often combined with constant telling and retelling of stories about sexual conquests - boys who do not display their hetrosexuality in this way run the risk of being labelled as gay
  • Found that male teachers told boys off for 'behaving like girls' and teased them when they gained lower marks in tests than girs. Teachers tended to ignore boys' verbal abuse of girls and even blamed girls for attracting it
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