Pupil Sub Cultures

Lesson Objective
1. Investigate and evaluate sociological studies of counter school culture amongst pupils
2. Then discuss pupil sub cultures in the International Student Forum

Complete the exercise.
Drop your notes into Word, highlight the key points that summarise each example in your own words in no more than 2 sentences for each
The post a response to this question in the Student Education Forum

choose deviant disrupt eleven factories grammar positive prestige prophecy reaction reject school status streamed superior
Traditional labelling theory suggests that pupils will always internalise a label given to them by a teacher and then live it out as a self fulfilling .
A number of sociologists has suggested that children are not actually theat passive and can resist labels created for them by teachers and develp their own culture in opposition to "school culture"

Examples: David Hargreaves, Colin Lacey, Paul Willis


1.David Hargreaves ("Social Relations In A Secondary School", 1967), for example, suggests that deviant sub-cultures develop as a pupil reaction to labelling. In the school he studied, he found a delinquent sub-culture developed as a to a labelling process.
The pupils who developed a deviant / delinquent sub-culture did so on the basis of their labelling as "multiple failures":
They attended a secondary modern school widely seen to be the type of that non-academic pupils attended.
They were in the school and were invariably in the lowest stream.
They were selected-out from the lowest stream and identified as "louts" and "trouble-makers".
Hargreaves suggests that, as a consequence of negative labelling, pupils sought-out each other's company as a means of "fighting back". Pupils who formed a delinquent sub-culture did so because they accepted their label and tried to transform its negative connotations into positive attributes. Being "bad" was therefore seen as a attribute within the deviant group
Pupils within the deviant sub group would therefore attempt to see who could gain the most within the group by breaking the rules. By doing the things that teachers regarded as deviant - playing truant, disrupting lessons, making teachers appear foolish, cheating and so forth - pupils were able, in each other's eyes, to gain some form of within the sub group.
Conversely, Hargreaves found that a non-deviant (conformist) pupil sub-culture also developed for the opposite reasons; pupils who were relatively successful within the school also sought-out each other's company as a means of confirming their social status within the school.
2.Colin Lacey ("Hightown Grammar", 1970) found a similar process to the one described by Hargreaves in a very different type of school. As school pupils, it might be assumed that the fact they had achieved a relatively high level of academic status by being accepted into a higher status school would not result in a sub-culture developing. However, Lacey found the process whereby the school attempted to differentiate pupils on the basis of achievement (high, middle and low streams, for example) created a sense of failure in the lowest streams, even though at the age of such pupils had been positively labelled as academically bright.

3.The neo Marxist Paul Willis studied 12 working class boys in a Midlands school - these were known as 'the lads'. These 'lads' knew how to achieve in school, they knew what to do to get qualifications but they chose to school and form their own 'Counter School Culture'.
This culture was based on a feeling of superiority over teachers and the other pupils in the school. Thye did not value academic work and their main objective in school was to lessons and 'get away' with whatever they could.
Willis argues that these 'lads' are not forced, but rather to fail at school - they know the dice are loaded against them and so reject school. Willis suggested that the counter school culture of the lads reflected very closely the working class sub culture found in local .