This article focuses on the experiences of 7-8 year old working-class girls in Belfast, Northern Ireland and their attitudes towards education. It shows how their emerging identities tend to emphasize relationships, marriage and motherhood at the expense of a concern with education and future careers. The article suggests that one important factor that can help explain this is the influence of the local neighbourhood. In drawing upon Bourdieu's concepts of symbolic violence and habitus and Elias' notion of figuration, the article shows how the local neighbourhood represents the parameters of the girls' social worlds. It provides the context within which the girls tend to focus on social relations within their community and particularly on family relationships, marriage and children. It also provides the context within which the girls tend to develop strong interdependent relationships with their mothers that also tend to encourage and reinforce the girls' particular gendered identities. The article concludes by arguing that there is a need for more research on working-class girls and education to look beyond the school to incorporate, more fully, an understanding of the influence of the family and local neighbourhood on their attitudes towards education and their future career aspirations.
- Symbolic violence
- social class