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The salience of gender during the transition to Higher Education: male students' accounts of performed and authentic identities.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date20/11/2007
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Journal number6
Volume33
Number of pages17
Pages887-903
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article looks at the transition to higher education made by a group of male undergraduates. The data were collected though one-to-one interviews with 24 students, who were asked questions designed to elicit data about their positioning in relation to hegemonic masculinities. The evidence presented here supports the view that gender operates as a salient and accessible means of identifying an in-group of peers and that 'laddish' practices are enacted as a function of the initial stages of peer group formation. However, such practices are described by many respondents as a 'front' or performance. In distancing themselves from such practices, these students did not succeed in articulating 'alternative masculinities', but many articulated a strong underlying value for an authentic self, providing an important insight into the experiencing of identity.

Bibliographic note

The significance of this paper lies in its contribution to the development of a theory of identity originally put forward by Jackson and Warin (2000) in which transitional phases of the lifespan are identified as creating identity dissonance. The originality of the paper lies in its unearthing of young male undergraduates' beliefs in an authentic self and their understanding that 'performed' masculinities are a necessary aspect of group formation processes during the transition to the new environment of HE. Whilst it is too early to assess the impact of this paper it is predicted that this will lie in its theoretical contribution, especially when combined with others by the same author(s) e.g. Warin (2006) since the paper's findings constitute a challenge to postmodern emphases on multiple selves. Warin wrote the paper, based on Dempster's data collection. Dempster contributed three paragraphs. The paper was refereed by two experts. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Education