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Title: The pleasures of being a student at the University of Sheffield
Author: Cheeseman, Matthew James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 4181
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis investigates the distinctive means by which undergraduate students identify as a group outside the official university agenda of learning and teaching. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out between 2005 and 2008 at the University of Sheffield and is thus an exploration of largely mobile, traditional students at an elite university in a time marked by 'Chicago-school' economic policies, global and post-industrial social change and pervasive technological mediation. Its findings are situated in three contextual narratives: the postwar development of a youth consumer culture, the expansion of Higher Education in the United Kingdom and the intensification of its night-time economy. Student identity is seen to be actuated within the latter, specifically the regular, ritualised activity of 'going out' which is understood, in a student context, as having developed from traditional, carnivalesque behaviours over three definite periods of student culture. The monetisation of these behaviours in the night-time economy is interpreted as having wrought significant temporal and spatial transformations on student life, the University and the city of Sheffield. Going out is seen as both performance and social process, one acting on and enacted by a small group of friends typically formed in student accommodation. Through this dual articulation going out is demonstrated as both propagating and being propagated by the pressures of mediated representation, especially those of the social-networking site Facebook. Going out, and especially the binge drinking that accompanies it, is ultimately understood, via Berardi (2009), as a raw, psychoactive medicine for the very pressures of objectification enshrined in mediated youth culture. Theoretically the research connects Noyes' (1995) formulation of group identity enacted in performance to Paglia's (1991) dichotomy of objectification and dissolution. In turn this is mapped onto Bourdieu's (1984; 1990) writing on sociology, Measham and Brain (2005) and Winlow and Hall's (2006) writing on the night-time economy and Allen and Ainley on Higher Education (2010). The thesis concludes with several recommendations: firstly a minimum price per unit accompanied by enforced social responsibility standards in the night-time economy, secondly the incorporation of the undergraduate first year into degree classification, thirdly a more practical emphasis on community and corporate life in both academic departments and residences and fourthly the pedagogic engagement of students in issues of pleasure, consumerism and culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available