Farrell, Francis (2012) ‘Encountering difference’: a study of adolescent males’ masculine identity work and its relationship to secondary age phase religious education. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Evidence from examination boards and successive governments’ research into gender show that examination success in RE and the numbers opting to take the subject at GCSE and ‘A’ level remain heavily skewed towards female learners. Drawing from poststructuralism and masculinities theory, the aim of my research is to critically investigate key stage four boys’ relationship to religious education and explore the factors which produced association or disassociation with RE.
My findings indicate that the boys who had a positive relationship to RE valued the epistemological openness of pluralistic RE as it helped them make sense of social and cultural difference. The boys who associated with RE were able to use it as a discursive resource for their on-going project of the masculine self, linking it to their imagined futures and career trajectories.
Interviews with the boys who disassociated from RE showed that where the boys had a negative view of religion they tended to conflate religion with RE. In some cases the pluralistic nature of RE was rejected and for others it was simply seen as irrelevant to their masculine identity work and was a resource they chose not to use.
Throughout this study the boys’ wider gendered practices are illuminated through their relationship to RE as the discursive site for the on-going construction of gendered subjectivity. The boys’ narratives also show their relationship to other dominant masculinising processes at work in their lives such as their relationship to sport, physicality, violence, subject choice and authority.
The findings presented offer new insights into adolescent identity work through the use of a poststructuralist analytic, to examine the construction of the adolescent masculine subject. The findings also suggest new directions for critical RE at a time of political
change and curriculum review.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Science and Public Policy
Contributors: Whitehead, Steve (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2017 07:42
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2022 10:56
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/3837

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