Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


This thesis is a response to negative media and public portrayals of young white working class men in Ireland It is prompted by the emergence into the public sphere of the Department of Education and Science’s Exploring Masculinities programme, a curriculum initiative designed to counter perceived problematic elements of youthful masculinity. This programme initiated a debate in the Irish media on men and boys, and gave a particular Irish dimension to the international focus on issues and questions about masculinity, social class and youth culture. My research seeks to uncover what lies behind increasingly negative and intransigent portrayals of young white working class men in Ireland who are, through their ‘deviant subcultures’, commonly presented as possessing or embodying a threat to established, middle class social norms and values. My focus throughout is on uncovering and generating an understanding of not only the material elements of the lived culture of young working class men; but also the effects this often violent and misogynistic culture may have on them, and on the way in which they are represented. The research, which is based on ethnographic fieldwork, seeks to reinvigorate debate on the effects of social class, traditional gender roles and disadvantage on gender identity and youth culture. Therefore, this is a ‘local’ ethnography, informed primarily by a small scale case-study conducted over two full school years with two groups of twelve young men from a disadvantaged, urban Cork City community. This work has emerged from and is supported by a broad cultural studies perspective with an emphasis on the pedagogical frameworks the boys participate in as well as their popular culture and everyday lives. It is presented with a full awareness and acknowledgement of the powerful influences which structure and shape youthful masculinities and cultural identities, taking full account of the community, home and school environments which the boys encounter and live within on a daily basis.