Back in July we launched a new website examining celebrity’s significance in the construction of young people’s aspirations, trying to make the our findings as widely accessible as possible. This mythbusting site is aimed at those who work with young people – including teachers, careers educators and youth workers. The site presents evidence from our two-year study to debunk a series of powerful and stigmatising myths about young people, including ‘young people want to get rich quick’, ‘young people have low aspirations’, ‘young people don’t value hard work’ and ‘young people are obsessed with celebrity culture’.
As researchers, we started our study because they were tired of hearing politicians and media commentators speaking about the ‘dangerous effects’ of celebrity on young people without talking to young people about how they engage with and understand celebrity. It seems like every day we hear fears that young people just want fame (as footballers’ wives or Reality TV stars) rather than achievement based on hard work and skill, but our research shows quite the opposite.
As well as the mythbusting section of the site, there’s also a page of stories of six of the 148 young people who participated in the research exploring their memories, hope for the future and struggles in the present. A third page contains eight videos of young actors from the Tricycle Theatre (London) performing extracts from the data, and talking about everything from celebrity drug taking to the celebrity philanthropy and debating whether Tupac is a good role model and whether Katie Price is a businesswoman. A final page offers material on how to do social research that could be of use for sociology A level students and teachers.
We plan to expand and develop these resources during 2015, with the support of Dr Akile Ahmet and finding from a Brunel Knowledge Transfer Secondment. We’d love to hear from teachers, youth workers, careers educators and anyone else who works with young people so that we know how best to approach this.
If you have any views on the current materials and how to develop them then please email Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org
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