The role of a dominant masculinity discourse in the decisions of early school leaving boys in Queensland

Harrington, Ingrid (2006) The role of a dominant masculinity discourse in the decisions of early school leaving boys in Queensland. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The research was motivated by concerns about the consistent pattern of poor retention of some boys to Year 12, and overall poor performance of some boys in Australian schools.

The study broadly drew on critical discourse theory to examine the circumstances surrounding the decision to leave school by 22 boys from three different social locations i.e. provincial, rural and metropolitan, in Queensland, Australia. Adopting Fairclough's (2002) model of discourse as a conceptual framework for this research allowed the exploration of the different socio-cultural practices as perceived by the boys in their broader social context.

For the purpose of the research, a dominant masculinity discourse was understood by using concepts commonly associated with masculinity, namely an individual sense of power and control, independence, and a sense of ‘self’. The boys constructed narratives to explain their personal circumstances and what influenced their school leaving decision. Their explanations were identified as seven generative themes (Freire, 1972), and the themes could be analysed through the lens of the three concepts of a dominant masculinity discourse. Analysis of the boys’ narratives through these concepts created the opportunity to link a dominant masculinity discourse with their attempts to justify their school experiences and early school leaving decision.

Despite the similarity of the boys’ school experiences, there were differences in the range of storylines (Bruner, 1990) identified in their narratives to illustrate their experiences in their broader social context differed. Similarities in the boys’ narratives included their belief in the value of learning, and that the context of school was unable to provide them with learning that was both meaningful and relevant to their post school pathways.

The study concluded that consideration be given by education researchers to the construction of a dominant masculinity discourse in broader social contexts, when understanding boys’ overall performance, engagement and retention at school.

Item ID: 2154
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: school leavers, school leaving, drop-outs, boys, Queensland, state schools, secondary schools, school performance, decision-making, influences, masculinity discourse, masculinity, self, identity, narratives
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2009 04:29
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education @ 60%
13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130309 Learning Sciences @ 40%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930103 Learner Development @ 20%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development @ 20%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939904 Gender Aspects of Education @ 60%
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