Survival of the skilful : an ethnographic study of two groups of young people in residential care
This thesis is a study of the experiences of young people living together in groups. It uses two children's homes in the north east of Scotland as its research sites. The ways in which data were collected were devised in consultation with the young people involved and required the researcher to 'live-in' th units for a year long period. This thesis concentrates on the ways in which the young people structured their resident groups and gained status and position within them. It argues that fixed roles or positions were not in play; rather there was constant change and fluidity. Young people, it is argued, gained position through a complex set of negotiations which required them to consider their skills and abilities as well as the social context in which they were operating. This inter-relationship supports some of the ideas put forward by Pierre Bourdieu and the conceptual analysis developed during the course of this thesis draws upon his work. The thesis as a whole contributes to the debates both within the study and practice of residential child care and broader sociological debates around children and young people. It illustrates the wide range of skills and knowledge used by the young people thus challenging bully/victim stereotypes and beliefs about the solely 'negative' influence of peers. Furthermore this thesis demonstrates the ways in which young people use their social agency to negotiate around 'adult' influences and controls.