The aim of the research is to explore two main issues -firstly the cultural reproduction of the proletariat/division of labour; how working class kids get working class jobs although the school confirms that “lads” have already attended school and have the qualifications. Secondly the role of the informal peer group in this process. Their process of socialization into the “counter-school culture” that is an area of informal group.
The study is a qualitative approach and the tools Willis used to get the dynamics of the informants are as follows; participant observation, getting involve into the class room and obtaining insights with 12 non-academic working class pupils.
He also carries out five smaller comparative studies and recorded group discussions in informal interviews and diaries, and face-to-face conversation with parents and academic staff for over two years. The theory is based on contemporary British cultural studies from the development of Marxian base/superstructure theory.
That theory states that changes in the superstructure (culture and ideology in the sense of social values and stereotypes) are determined by change in the base.
Another theoretical approach is the Gramsci’s concept of hegemony “that helps to explain why class conflict was not endemic despite the fact that power and capital were so unevenly distributed and the working class led such confined lives” Willis’s study analyses the inner meaning, rationality and dynamic of cultural process to do that focus on a group of teenager working class.
He analyses, how “the lads” create their own language to identify themselves as a distinctive cluster in the school.
This language allows them to communicate and interact beliefs (what ever I do I will be a working class man, “we know more than the teachers about life), ideas (I am what I am, I would like to get a girl) and values (have a “laff” and to belong to my mates group), most of the elements of their culture as Willis approaches have verbal outcome.
In fact, the way the got together is by talking and finding out that they share the same values the main one is having a “laff”. Other intangible aspect of their culture is made by the symbol of young culture’s cloths that differentiate them from the other pupils at the school and will make more attractive to girls. The “lads” show strong opposition to the academic staff at the school, mainly because what the say or what they teach is useless in their foreseeable working days and they feel superiority over teachers.
They learn by socialization with family and friends and those social groups are outside of the learning process at the school due to the distances that academic staff set. The way they refers to sex is by the superiority of men, a girlfriend model is equal to their mothers and the romanticism is made by home values “she will look after me; cooking, cleaning cloths etc”. Regarding to racism there is a rejection to the others and chauvinism, also here stands out that during the first four years people from different countries have their own rooms, so there is no integration.
Apart from this, there are strong resemblance between “the lads” and their parents at work, the shop floor culture required; confidence, masculinity and toughness those elements are part of “the lads” style of life as well as chauvinism, jokes around the concept of authority. Those similarities influence “the lads” to pursue that kind of job. On the other hand working class parents they do not advice kids over their future, in addition it can be seen like a new income at home, opposite to that in middle class parents will advice kids future and what is more relevant is that careers services in the school is meritocratic.
So self-assessment and self-concept in relation to life style and job profile. The lads have learned from their homes that work is unpleasant and monotonous. Status and identity are constructed informally and in the group and from the resources of the working class and especially it themes of masculinity and toughness, so job is subjective by the lads. In conclusion, after a year half of the lads were out of work it seems that they will have a difficult start at the end they might get a training with the help of parents in a factory.
This ethnographic study shows, that social structures must have to relate one to the other in order to cope and solve this hedonism of “the lads” culture. Clearly a change in the academic staff approach of teaching and family pupil’s relation is mandatory as well as implementing new career services policies that focus on achieving a freedom of choice for working class boys.
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