This week, the Telegraph newspaper – often referred to as ‘Torygraph’ – published a highly provocative article, entitled “Working class children must learn to be middle class to get on in life, government advisor says” which reported on recent comments made by Peter Brant, head of policy at the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. Leaving aside for a moment that this is not exactly what Brant said, this piece is oozing with symbolic violence and provides another example of the narrow and problematic notions of aspiration, class and social mobility held by our politicians, policymakers and the right-wing media. In this guest blog post, Jessie Abrahams – a ‘working class’ student who attended an elite university and has researched social class and belonging – offers an alternative perspective.
No question, celebrity culture is fascinated with mothers and motherhood, from bad mums, good mums, reformed bad girl mums, out-of-control mothers, to the domineering ‘mumager’ and so on. Oftentimes, these images of celebrity mothers are shaped by gender, race and class ideologies; that makes some kinds of mothers more desirable or respectable than others, typically white, heterosexual, middle-class mothers. Celebrity motherhood has become big business too, as many women have created lifestyle brands using their mothering style as a selling feature (see Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson, Tori Spelling, just to name a few). For some of these women, pregnancy became their ticket to public reformation; allowing them to transition from “bad girl” to “happy, fulfilled, doting mother”. However, many are also very critical of this celebration of celebrity motherhood for creating even more unrealistic standards/ideals for the average woman who does not have the privilege of being helped by a staff of nannies, cooks and trainers. In this guest post, Natasha Patterson explores what a new Canadian campaign to support single mothers, has to say about debates on celebrity motherhood and about parodying celebrity culture to promote women’s issues.
This is the third of a series of posts exploring what the young people in our group interviews had to say about key global celebrities. Here Heather looks at the talk about singer and actor Beyoncé. Elsewhere on the website you can read what our participants had to say about Bill Gates and about Will Smith. If you’re interested in how we analysed our data to arrive at this account then follow this link, here I focus on how and why it appeared to be compulsory to like, even love, Beyoncé.
We are now coming to the end of the reality TV series Tough Young Teachers. This show, screened by UK publicly-funded youth channel BBC Three, focuses on the lives of six beginning teachers in ‘challenging’ London schools. We see these new teachers taking their first lessons. We hear their frustrations and their triumphs. We follow their progress through the ups and downs of the year. This makes good television, as the number of excited tweets each week using #ToughYoungTeachers indicates. However, among the enthusiasm is a strand of critique and concern coordinated by TeacherROAR, for the show focuses not on any first year teachers but on those who enter teaching through a relatively small but rapidly expanding route into teaching: Teach First. Politically popular with both the Labour party and the Conservatives, Teach First brings many fantastic – mostly young – people into teaching. So why the resistance? While Michael Gove may see this as yet more evidence that many teachers are leftie ‘enemies of promise’ more interested in ideology than in supporting young people, in this post Heather shows why we really should be concerned about Teach First and its celebrity teachers.
Bryony Kimmings will open our celebration of the project on the evening of 10th July with an illustrated lecture. Details in the poster below. Either book your place by emailing us, or directly through our eventbrite page
Celebrities make the headlines with such regularity, you could be forgiven for concluding that as a society, we are completely obsessed by celebrity culture. We consistently volunteer an interest in the things celebrities do or say – particularly when their antics are less than admirable. There tends to be a sense of ambivalence about our attitudes towards celebrities: they are either adored or exalted; defended or attacked; glorified or demonised; derided or revered. In this guest blog post, Gary Walsh from Character Scotland, explores the relationship between young people, celebrity culture and character education.
The time has come to challenge our obsession with doing everything more quickly. — Carl Honoré
The first Seminar on the SLOW University took place on the 6th November at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS), Palace Green, Durham University. In this guest blog post, Maggie O’Neill reflects on this seminar and looks forward to the next on 11th March 2014.
Recent comments by blogger Brent Blake that Prince Harry is ‘more real than most people you know’ echo sentiments in our interviews with young people that Harry is ‘a normal guy’. But what does it mean for a millionaire British royal to be seen as ‘ordinary’? In this blog post, Laura reflects on initial analysis of our group interview and case study data, arguing that Harry’s performance of ordinariness serves a powerful rhetorical function in erasing oppression and justifying continuing national and international inequality.
At the end of February, our researcher Laura Harvey leaves her research post on the CelebYouth project to take up a permanent lectureship in sociology of media at Surrey University. Kim and I are really sorry to see her go but also feel very lucky to have worked closely with her over the last 16 and a half months. At an individual and project level, we have benefited enormously from her contributions. Happily Laura will continue to be involved in the project.
While she is irreplaceable, we are going to do our best and are advertising for a three month full-time researcher position from mid April to mid July to work with us. This person will have a focus on analysing the celebrity case study data but will also be involved in a wide range of other aspects of the work. If you’d like to apply or know anyone who might be interested in the job, the details are available through Brunel web recruitment: https://jobs.brunel.ac.uk/WRL/. If you select School of Sport and Education under ‘category’ when you search, it should come up. It will be advertised on jobs.ac.uk from tomorrow. This post may suit someone with a background in education, media studies, cultural studies or sociology. The deadline for applications is in a couple of weeks on 12th February. Do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Over the life of this project, the CelebYouth team have challenged government rhetoric of low aspirations, arguing that this not only lacks any evidence base, it also neglects the broader structural context within which young people’s ideas about their future are formed and realised. In this post, guest blogger Tristram Hooley argues that the provision of career support can be pivotal in helping young people to realise their aspirations. He argues that many young people have high aspirations, but are unable to fully realise them because of lack of support. Tristram has recently published a research report which describes how resources, staffing and political support for career education and guidance have declined since the election of the Coalition Government. As he explains, this decline has resulted in a dramatic loss of support for most young people and deleterious consequences.