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Title: An ethnographic investigation of 'underclass youth' : A case study of blossom hill, Teesside
Author: McAlister, Siobhan Martha
ISNI:       0000 0004 2689 5105
Awarding Body: University of Teesside
Current Institution: Teesside University
Date of Award: 2007
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This research hinges around an ethnographic investigation of what have termed 'underclass' or 'excluded youth'. Located in' a physically isolated and multiply deprived estate - situated in a place deemed to be a prime underclass locale - it examines the extent to which the lived reality of young people's lives in poor places is reflected accurately in recent theories of such lives. Through periods of intensive observation, participant observation and in-depth qualitative interviews with 34 young people, it explores the key themes within these theories (namely attitudes, experiences and aspirations towards education, employment and work, the family, parenthood and independence and crime and community). Despite concerns that young people are detached or excluded from these areas of life, the thesis argues that young people remain attached to the world of work, that the family and parenting are held in high regard, that criminal behaviour is often transitory and that there is a strong attachment to community. In short, then, the research concludes that underclass theories fail to capture the intricacies and realities of the transitions and experiences of so-called underclass youth. Whilst social exclusion discourses do allow for greater understanding of the socioeconomic forces that work to constrain the agency of young people, they - like underclass theories - sometimes over-emphasise choice in the making of youth transitions. Additionally, social exclusion discourses can operate with a similar victimblaming ethos and overestimate the alleged social and moral detachment of young people. Finally, contrary to some of the more convincing social structural analyses of poverty and social exclusion in the US and UK, the thesis argues that in this context blocked opportunities do not generate socio-cultural responses that themselves were significant in generating exclusion. Rather, the ethnography emphasises continued attachment to older forms of working-class culture, life-style and aspirations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available