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The Jack Wills crowd: towards a sociology of an elite subculture

King, Anthony and Smith, Daniel ORCID: 2018. The Jack Wills crowd: towards a sociology of an elite subculture. British Journal of Sociology 69 (1) , pp. 44-66. 10.1111/1468-4446.12254

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British sociologists have long been interested in youth sub‐cultures. However British sociologists have tended to focus on working class subcultures and avoided engagement with exclusive sub‐cultures of elite social groups. This article seeks to attend to this gap by examining the subculture of a British elite: ex‐public school students at select universities in the UK in the twenty‐first century. This group consists of a relatively small group of young adults, aged between 18 and 23, who attended public schools, especially one of the nine Clarendon schools (Eton, Winchester, Westminster, St. Paul's, Merchant Taylor's, Shrewsbury, Rugby, Harrow and Charterhouse), and were students at a selective group of British universities, primarily Oxford and Cambridge, Durham, Bristol, Exeter, Bath, Manchester, St Andrews and Edinburgh. The article examines the way in which this group has reconfigured and re‐constituted itself in the face of globalizing challenges. Specifically, it examines the way in which participation of ex‐public school students in events run by and under the patronage of the high street retailing company, Jack Wills, has played a galvanising role for this group in the last decade. The Jack Wills crowd is an example of how some young adults form exclusive social networks and reproduce prevailing forms of privilege. The social networks built around the Jack Wills subculture is likely to provide them with advantages in the job market through a prodigious network of connections and patrons. The Jack Wills subculture potentially contributions to the socio‐economic reproduction of the higher professional middle classes.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0007-1315
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 January 2019
Date of Acceptance: 30 June 2016
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 20:35

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