Social Class Replication by Youth Subcultures Within our Schools
To investigate the existence and influence over social class
replication of youth subcultures, concentrating on commonly accepted
groups. The study will focus on ‘townies’ and ‘greebos’ and key stage
three of the school system.
From a sociological point of view it is a relevant topic, as there has
been limited research done in recent years, and I wish to follow on
from work such as Cohen and Clarke’s study of ‘skinheads’. Youth
culture is an important factor in the socialization of young people,
and if it influences class replication then its repercussions affect
society as a whole.
Personally, I have experienced youth subculture and consequently have
the advantage of inside knowledge on which to base my study, and
interest in the topic.
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Context and Concept
I am using an article from ‘The Independent’ Education section from 31st
October 2002 as one of my contexts. It describes how tribal youth
subcultures are dividing schools, primarily ‘townies’ and ‘grungers’-
a regional variation of the word ‘greebo’. It goes on to give
definitions of the types, and is based on the author’s personal
experience and knowledge gained through her own children. It raises
the issue of class- the townies are predominantly working class and
misbehave, the greebos middle class and hard working. This could lead
to the assumption that these tribes continue the class structure, by
keeping them apart.
A context I am going to use is Paul Willis’ study ‘Learning to Labour’.
He examined working class boys’ behaviour, and how it was replicated
in the work place, using a triangulation of methodology. He concluded
that within schools working class boys create a counter culture of
disruption and undermining of authority. They are bored in school, and
do not try to achieve success, as they believe they are pre destined
for boring work which needs no qualifications. It would be interesting
to apply this idea to youth sub cultures within schools today, and see
whether this class replication is continuing on a larger scale, as the
article mentioned implies, as this would show youth subcultures to be
A concept I’m going to use is Marxism. Marxists such as Clarke would
say that youth subcultures work for capitalism, as they help to
socialize children into their class roles, without them realising it
is happening. They keep the different classes apart, and in doing so
alienate them from one another and help to foster suspicion and fear.
This they would say is shown in the way youth sub culture in our
schools seems to be based on class, and the behaviour within them
dictated by what they subconsciously assume to be their future.
Townies are mainly working class and misbehave at school because...