Edwards, Sian (2015) 'Problematic Youth': An ethnographic study of working class culture at 'home' and within a Pupil Referral Unit. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Social anxieties surrounding the perceived deviancy of young people both within their communities and the education system have been continually reconstructed, over the past century. Burgeoning contemporary media representations and government policies which specifically draw upon the notion of an underclass (Murray: 1990) are in interplay and exacerbate public fears. Increasingly under neo-liberalism, state governance and disciplinary powers are aimed specifically at working class youth. Whilst there have been recent accounts of working-class stigmatisation through analysis of dominant discourses in political debate, policy and media, there is limited research which investigates the extent to which these representations affect the everyday lived experiences of the people to which they refer.

This thesis, based on emergent themes fom ethnographic research on the 'streets' and within a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) asse1ts that working class youths lived experience is increasingly framed by stigmatising discourses of inherited cultural deficiencies. The resources that young people draw upon in response to this experienced stigma result in further governance, regulation and restriction. Both within educational institutions and in their contested use of public and community space, young people's self-identifications, are hampered by a frustrated desire to 'belong' within communities and institutions which categorise them as deviant.

The thesis focuses on the PRU as a Total Institution (Goffman: 1961), the terminus for youth moved across educational spheres and considers the meaning making of working class youth subject to policy intervention. It analyses young people's everyday experiences of marginalisation and stigmatisation focusing in on tensions that arise between young people and those policing their exile. Finally, it is suggested that young people's negotiation, contestation and reaction to the problematic discourse surrounding them, impact and affect not only their social interactions but life chances and opportunities, reflecting previous findings of cultural and social reproductions (Willis: 1977).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: For access to the hard copy thesis, check the University Library catalogue.
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Science and Public Policy
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2017 10:49
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2019 16:49
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/4160

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