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Title: 'Handy lads' : an ethnographic research study of men and violence in Northern England
Author: Ellis, Anthony John
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis empirically explores the relationship between masculinity, identity and violent crime amongst a sample of white working class men. It draws upon in-depth ethnographic research conducted over a 12 month period in deindustrialised communities in Northern England. The author gathered detailed life history material from ten individual men who participated in repeated, in-depth, unstructured interviews. These life history interviews were supplemented with extensive periods of observation with some of the men, as well as other men involved in violence and crime. The thesis utilises contemporary critical criminological and psychosocial perspectives to theorise gender, identity, masculinity, subjectivity and violence under neo-liberal capitalism. The main arguments in the thesis are that masculine identity and subjectivity are products of pragmatic biographical experience, memory, and their on-going interaction with socio-cultural and economic conditions. The data indicates strongly that the men involved in this research have learned to value, and are committed to using, violence through being socialised in micro climates of acute marginality, insecurity and occasional brutality; where interpersonal violence and threats are encountered regularly from a young age. Such traumatic and humiliating experiences shape the habitus at a deeply profound level, and consequently recourse to violence becomes a habitual almost unconscious response to specific situations that are perceived as threatening, humiliating, or potentially so. Violent behaviour is reinforced through interaction with immediate marginalised masculine cultures that equate self-dignity and respect with an ability to physically defend and take care of oneself. In the broader contexts of de-industrialisation, aggressive neo-liberalism and post-political abandonment, male violence has become a personal resource. It provides a means for the participants to enforce a sense of moral self-righteousness against a perceived dangerous and unforgiving milieu populated by threatening, brutally instrumental 'others' seeking to harm and denigrate valued aspects of their symbolic identities.
Supervisor: Wykes, M. ; Atkinson, R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available