Talk of aspiration has been running through social policy in the United Kingdom and beyond for decades. Labour and Conservative politicians see it as a way to address inequality and to get working-class people to become more socially mobile. Prime Minister David Cameron called the UK an ‘aspiration nation’ and opposition leadership candidate Andy Burnham opened his campaign with his intention to make Labour ‘the party of aspiration’. In such pronouncements, aspiration remains alarmingly vague. In this guest post, Garth Stahl explores how we can use the theoretical tools of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu to study the identity negotiations surrounding aspiration, and particularly the aspirations of working-class young men and their sense of value.
Posts Tagged ‘masculinity’
Although we completed the data collection for CelebYouth nearly two years ago, we are still working on the analysis. In particular, we are getting to grips with the rich and fascinating data from the 51 individual interviews we carried out with young people aged 14 to 17 across England. There are so many myths about young people’s aspirations – from the idea that these are low to the idea that they reflect an obsession with becoming famous. Although policymakers seem to want statistics, we believe that it is through stories of young people like those with whom we spoke that we can disrupt these ideas and show them to be the myths that they are. In this post Heather tells Homer’s story – one of just a few young people we met who aspired solely to traditionally working-class occupations. While this might mean that he figures in statistics as having ‘low aspirations’, his interview shows the importance of taking young people and their choices seriously rather than reducing them to clichés.
When thinking about masculinity and popularity, the ‘coolest’ boys have traditionally been those who physically intimidated their peers through aggression, misogyny and homophobia. In this guest blog, Max Morris asks whether this model of popularity still exists for members of the YouTube Generation by looking at some of the UK’s most popular vloggers (or video bloggers). He argues that these vloggers reflect how many boys today find homophobia to be unacceptable and value public displays of affection – often by sharing photos, videos and emotional care work on social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
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.
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.
Well, 2014 has well and truly started and there’s no let up for the team with lots of analysis being undertaken in the coming months. Last year we finished all our school data collection and began coding and analysing the data from the group interviews, and we’ve now moved on to looking at the individual interviews with our participants which explore in greater depth their own aspirations and imagined futures. These interviews were fascinating to conduct and now to return to. We’ll be posting blogs about those individual interviews soon, but we thought we’d start the year by reflecting further on some of the initial analysis we’ve conducted on our group interview data. In these group interviews, we focused on exploring young people’s views on celebrity culture: the celebrities they liked, disliked, and how these evaluations of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ celebrities were made. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, while many of our 12 case study celebrities generated relatively mixed views among our participants, one celebrity in particular was universally liked, if not loved: Will Smith, variously located as an inspirational role model, a dream father, an entertaining friend and ‘cool guy’. In this blog post Kim explores some of the patterns and themes in young people’s talk about Will in those group interviews and begins to question what these might reveal about young people’s collective sense making in relation to aspiration, success and race.
After an intense first year on the project, data collection is now complete. As Heather has discussed elsewhere, we’ve started the initial analysis on some of the group interview data by developing a set of thematic codes to cut into the data which spoke to the research aims and questions, as well as unexpected themes and concerns that came up in young people’s talk about celebrity culture (for example: ‘routes to fame’ and different ‘genres’ of celebrity). Having coded the transcripts, we’ve started to take on individual sub-codes and develop summaries of their content, making initial observations about the patterns and themes within these. While this only represents the beginning of our analysis, this process of immersing ourselves in the data has allowed us to get a handle on some interesting patterns in how celebrity culture relates to young people’s classed and gendered aspirations. In this blog post, Kim discusses some of the themes and patterns that emerged from one of her coding summaries: young people’s talk about celebrities associated with ‘technology and enterprise’.
Two key themes emerged for us from the Gender, Media and Generation conference. In another post we explore social class and femininity, and in a final short post reflect on working as feminist scholars in contemporary climate of academia. In this post we explore how race and masculinity were absent presences through the day and how this relates to our own research.
After a lot of work finding schools, we have begun fieldwork and carried out six focus groups in two schools. In this post, we (Kim and Heather) share some of the things that surprised us in our 14 to 17 year-old participants’ talk about celebrities – from arguments about diver Tom Daley to animated discussions of classic Hollywood and Bollywood film stars.
Who comes to mind when we think about contemporary celebrities? Perhaps like me you watched Summer 2012’s UK Celebrity Big Brother so it’s Julian Clary, Julie Goodyear and Danica Thrall who stood out from the gang of A-to-Z-listers. Or, if you spent a summer watching the Olympics and Paralympics, perhaps it’s ‘our’ medal winners. In my first post I want to mention a few less talked about sporting celebrities – those famous for throwing arrows.