Currently there is growing professional concern in education about ‘boys’ schooling underachievement'. At the same time, popular representations are emerging in the media that position boys as the new victims of institutional gender discrimination. Implicit in these accounts is the notion of fixed gender categories for girls and boys that are in the process of changing. In contrast, recent feminist research on schooling has shown the limits of earlier sex role models of socialisation, that operated with fixed gender images of male and female pupils. It is suggested in this paper that there is a need to draw upon this literature, in order to develop a more sophisticated framework of male identity formation at a school level. The emerging thesis of ‘boys’ underachievement’ needs to be located within this framework, that suggests that schools make available a range of femininities and masculinities that young people come to occupy. This paper focuses upon an exploration of the cultural production of white working‐class male students. More specifically there is a critical examination of a crisis masculinity experienced by specific sectors of young working class men, who are low academic achievers and have little prospect of future work. Of particular concern here is that new models of school masculinity are being constructed at a time of retreat from social class analysis in critical accounts of schooling.
The Sociological Review – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 1996
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