Youth cultures in schools

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Topic 6: Youth cultures in Schools

Interactionism and school subcultures:

Early educational research tended to focus on boys and was linked to concerns about the way that schools labelled and categorised children according to their perceived ability. 

Hargreaves and Lacey- criticised functionalist ideas that suggested schools created shared norms and values by pointing out tat children labelled as school failures actually gained high status from flouting school rules. 

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Topic 6: Youth cultures in Schools

Marxist accounts of the development of school subcultures:

Willis- carried out a study of 12 boys in school in the West Midlands. It was a secondary modern, a school for those who had failed exams and been sent to a low status school. He concluded that the 'lads' developed a subculture as a deliberate act of resistance to oppression. He believed, the boys deliberately chose to be anti- school and this contributed to their class oppression in work because they were likely to remain in low status and low paid work. 

Criticism- he was so focused on following the group of boys he ignored other groups in the school and may have overlooked what was happening to the 'quieter' pupils. 

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Topic 6: Youth cultures in Schools

Subcultures and ethnicity:

Sewell- studied African- Caribbean subcultures and suggested that schools were openly racist, and these boys were seen as threatening by teachers. Although, not all became anti- school, a variety of subcultures developed, including conformist subcultures. 

Three main types of subcultures were identified:

- Innovators- for education but hated school

- Those who hated education but were non- confrontational

- Those who formed an anti- school subculture based on Jamaican cultural traditions

Sewell has since suggested that the failure of African- Caribbean boys is related to reasons that lie within their home culture. 

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Topic 6: Youth cultures in Schools

Gender and issues of ethnicity: 

Safia Mirza- identified a number of girl cultures in response to teachers who, in her view, displayed varying forms of racist behaviour. Although, the girls were resentful, they developed an anti- school attitudes that resisted racism through success and striving for high attainment. 

Mac an Ghaill- claimed that as girls have gained status in schools, and are now the gender achieving the most educational success, boys have experienced a crisis of masculinity. They are unsure what male identity is or should be as traditional male jobs have disappeared. 

Shain- studied Asian girl groups and discovered that there were various subcultural responses within the school. She identified subcultures that rebelled against racism, either by becoming anti- school or surviving by ignoring racism by conforming. Another group was pro- school and rebelled against the strict Asian cultures of their parents by succeeding and aiming for careers. 

Carolyn Jackson- identified a group she called 'laddettes'. These were white working class girls who were adopting masculine behaviours and norms, such as disruption, rudeness, swearing, etc. However, this behaviour isn't linked to school failure as many successful boys and girls subscribe to anti- school subcultures in school. They cope by working hard at home to mess in school

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Topic 6: Youth cultures in Schools

Research in Wales:

Truancy- Philippa James- truancy and anti- school behaviours aren't just confined to underachievers or anti- school subcultures. Many, children truant. Mostly the behaviour is so well hidden that schools and other pupils are unaware of it. It is only when identified as truants, it becomes problematic. 

Sexuality and gender issues- Emma Renold- she discovered that by looking older by wearing high heel shoes and make-up, as well as participating in ladette behaviour among girls was more about looking older than about sexual behaviour. There was pressure to form boyfriend/ girlfriend relationships. 

Conformity and young people- Williamson- in a discussion paper on the status of youth work, it was found that despite negative reporting in the press and the focus of research into unusual and bizarre behaviour, most young people are conformist and ordinary. 

Pro- school youth cultures- young people required more activities and services, they want more opportunity for sport, arts and youth club activity. 

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