Young people’s access to housing is under the spotlight in the UK. The Housing and Planning Bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords, and there are campaigns across the country for people to have a right to secure housing. Many of the young people we spoke to as part of the celebyouth project talked about where they lived now and in the future – with popular culture being one resource they drew on to talk about their lives. In this guest blog post, blogger and writer Chris Smith discusses how reality TV represents housing, and what impact this might have on young people’s aspirations.
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.
Laura gave a presentation in December at the Media Education Association Media Magazine student conference, held at the Institute of Education in London. The conference is aimed at students studying A-level media. The presentation aimed to give students some insight into ongoing empirical research on media and share some of the emerging findings from the project, focusing on the different discourses of ‘hard work’ in our interviews with young people. There is a video of the presentation below, and you can find a copy of the slides here: Real world research Media Mag.
The last week has seen first John Major and now David Cameron lamenting the lack of social mobility within UK society. Both have argued that what is needed to promote social mobility is for young people to work harder and have higher aspirations. As with so much government rhetoric, they paint a picture of UK youth simply not aiming high enough. Young people’s voices, as ever, have been missing from these recent pronouncements. In this post Laura argues that if Cameron spent more time listening to young people, he would discover that it is not their aspirations which are at fault.
One of the more unexpected findings from our focus group data was the popularity of ‘YouTuber’ celebrities, including gamers. Before the interviews, I thought of YouTube as a site to watch videos followed from links shared by friends, or search for old clips of shows, interviews or news stories. However, many of the young people we spoke to used YouTube by subscribing to particular YouTube channels and following popular YouTubers. While many people can upload videos to YouTube, the term ‘YouTuber’ was generally used to describe those who regularly posted videos and had a following of subscribers.
Participants talked about how YouTube videos circulated between their online and offline worlds, and debated how far being a YouTuber counted as legitimate work. In this post Laura takes a look at some of the themes emerging from young people’s talk about YouTube during the group interviews.
Calling all teachers, youth workers, policymakers, careers educators and others who work with young people! The CelebYouth team will be running a workshop in October for practitioners and policymakers to hear about and contribute to our research on the role of celebrity in young people’s classed and gendered aspirations.
While the CelebYouth team didn’t set out thinking we were ‘digital sociologists’, the project was designed to engage with people online through the project website, Twitter and Facebook. In this second blog post on our contribution to the recent digital sociology seminar, Laura explores some of the tensions, opportunities and challenges facing the CelebYouth team in communicating about their research online.
In the wake of the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich on Wednesday, mainstream media and policy discourse has been saturated with sensationalist, racist and Islamophobic language, much of which is directed at young Muslim men. This article by Toby Young, which calls for ‘military-style free schools’ to ‘prevent disaffected Muslim youths from falling into the hands of Islamist hate preachers’ falls into this category. Toby’s comments come quick on the heels of Gove’s recent speech in which he argued for an increase in the number of cadet forces in state schools. In this blog post, Laura explores the assumptions behind the Conservative rhetoric about the role of cadet forces, and the armed forces more widely, in state schools.
While on a recent trip to Liberia, David Cameron told young people there that “If you ask children in the UK, all they want to be is pop stars and footballers”. This recent quip by the Prime Minister reveals a dismissive attitude towards young people and a narrow vision of their aspirations. It seems that in Cameron’s view, there are only certain kinds of aspirations that really count. Starting a business, buying a house and professional careers in medicine and law, get full marks from Cameron, while dreams of success in music or sport cause concern. This all feels somewhat ironic given the summer of 2012 was all about celebrating the UK’s sporting (and musical) talent. Cameron’s comments are exactly what we’re trying to challenge in our research with young people in the UK, as part of an ESRC-funded project about celebrity culture and aspirations.