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All I’ve gotta do is wank on about some bollocky poem: cool and socially aware positions in the talk of London private school girls

Pichler, Pia. 2009. All I’ve gotta do is wank on about some bollocky poem: cool and socially aware positions in the talk of London private school girls. In: Pia Pichler and E. Eppler, eds. Gender and Spoken Interaction. Houndmills, Baskingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 87-114. ISBN 0230013287 [Book Section]

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Pia Pichler’s chapter explores issues of social class, gender and identity on the basis of informal talk amongst adolescents. She analyses how, through which particular practices, discourses and types of knowledge, four 16-17-year-old London private school girls position themselves in their friendship group and in their wider peer context. She shows how the girls strive to present themselves as cool, streetwise and socially aware despite their privileged backgrounds, and argues that this allows the four friends to differentiate themselves from their posh, sheltered and socially unaware classmates. The alternative private school femininities the group constructs often carry gendered connotations. Working-class femininity is indirectly presented as embarrassing and the girls’ efforts to be cool tend to go hand in hand with a positive evaluation of masculine subject positions. The chapter’s main focus is on the relevance of social class to the girls’ positioning, which is both implicit and explicit in the girls’ talk. Building on Bourdieu’s (1984; 1986) notion of cultural capital and Silverstein’s (2004) work on indexicality, Pichler examines the girls’ local positioning in relation to larger-scale sociocultural meanings. She argues that the girls’ performance of streetwise coolness and their association with ‘real people’ constitutes a pursuit of alternative cultural capital which allows the four friends to construct their identities in opposition to an over-privileged and sheltered private school, upper middle class femininity. Pichler however concludes that this interactive display of (non-highbrow) knowledge about and participation in cultural practises (such as soft drugs use and non-mainstream music) needs to be seen in the context of the young women’s access to dominant cultural capital, including their knowledge of high culture and their private school and future university trajectories, the value of which extends well beyond the girls’ local friendship group.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature
Research Office > REF2014

Dates:

DateEvent
2009Published

Item ID:

6234

Date Deposited:

15 Nov 2011 11:39

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2017 09:54

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/6234

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