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White working-class boys, their educational experiences and identity construction

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Moritz Sowada.

Within the state education system of the United Kingdom “the great majority of low achievers – more than three-quarters – are white and British, and boys outnumber girls” (Cassen and Kingdon 2007: x). The study was focused on the heterogeneity of the white native British boys at GCSE who often lack financial and cultural capital which can dramatically impact their aspirations, values and ‘life worlds’. To capture this heterogeneity, participants were selected using a variety of criteria: FMS status, college records, setting/tracking, prefect status, participation in Talented and Gifted programmes and random selection. The qualitative sociological study was conducted in seven stages with 23 students using semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Three South London school sites were used: 1) a Pupil Referral Unit; 2) a school where white working-class boys were a minority (in a boy-heavy cohort); 3) a school where white working-class were the majority with a more equal gender balance. Many different activities were used including listening to music, watching DVD clips, examining images. All were designed to access the evaluative techniques the boys used to define themselves, their families, their communities, and their schooling. The data was then coded and analyzed for emergent themes; then Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, capitals and field were used to explain the identity work the boys were undergoing.

This talk is part of the FERSA Lunchtime Sessions series.

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