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The 21st Century Ladz: The school-to-work transition and masculine identity of marginalised working-class young men from the South Wales Valleys

Gater, Richard 2022. The 21st Century Ladz: The school-to-work transition and masculine identity of marginalised working-class young men from the South Wales Valleys. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis explores the school-to-work transition and formation of masculinity of a group of marginalised working-class young men in the South Wales Valleys, in the context of social and economic change after the end of heavy industry. The qualitative research was undertaken collaboratively with a youth centre organisation and consists of an ethnographic study of nine young men, plus interviews with youth workers and a school teacher. The research engages with the themes of masculinity and social class, whilst also considering predicted future employment changes and the possible implication of these changes for the participants’ educational experiences and employment aspirations. It considers this group of young men in relation to the 1977 research on the lads conducted by Paul Willis (1977). Although there are similarities to the lads, in the context of the loss of heavy industry, there are notable changes in the young men’s views and behaviour, including a pragmatic approach to education, some deviation from a manual employment orientation, softer displays of masculinity and a rupturing of previous modes of being that derived from heavy industrial masculinity. The significance of this is that, while previous research has demonstrated the complex intergenerational effects of the loss of heavy industry, which has resulted in an opposition to neoliberal individualism, service sector employment and emotional labour among a previous generation of young men in the area (Gater 2022), the current research identifies significant generational changes. In light of the coming changes in work related to increased automation and new technologies, it is vital to consider how young men such as these might have access to better paid and skilled employment. The results of this research allow us to consider employment futures other than low-skilled manual employment and thus to potentially increase the life chances of marginalised working-class young men.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 February 2023
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2023 15:45

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