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The Role of Celebrity in Young People's Classed and Gendered Aspirations

  • Start date: 17 September 2012
  • End date: 16 May 2014

There are growing concerns in the UK that celebrity is impacting negatively on young people’s aspirations. This study builds on recent research suggesting that celebrity informs young people’s educational and career aspirations in complex ways. It is exploring how accounts of aspiration within celebrity shape young people’s imagined futures.

The research questions are:

  • What discourses (powerful and conflicting social stories) of aspiration circulate in celebrity representations?
  • How do young people take-up these discourses in talking about their own aspirations?
  • How do discourses of aspiration in celebrity and young people’s take-up of these relate to social class and gender?

This youth-centred study combines individual and group interviews with online forums and celebrity case studies and involves 144 young people in six English comprehensive schools. At the start of the school year, 24 participants per school, half in Year 10 (aged 14-15) and half in Year 12 (aged 16-17), will take part in group interviews. At the end of the school year 48 selected participants will take part in individual interviews. Between school visits, participants will be invited to join an online forum and there will be case studies of 12 celebrities who feature strongly in the group interviews.