This book which has now established itself as a classic study of working class boys describes how Paul Willis followed a group of 'lads' as they passed through the last two years of school and into work. The book explains that for 'the lads' it is their own culture which blocks teaching and prevents the realisation of liberal education aims. This culture exposes some of the contradictions within these formal aims and actually supplies the operational criteria by which a future in wage labour is judged. Paul Willis explores how their own culture can guide working class lads on to the shop floor.
This is an uncompromising book which has provoked considerable discussion and controversy in educational circles throughout the world - it has been translated into Finnish, German, French, Swedish, Japanese and Spanish.
Contents: Key to transcripts; Introduction. Part I Ethnography: Elements of a culture; Class and institutional form of a culture; Labour power, culture, class and institution. Part II Analysis: Penetrations; Limitations; The role of ideology; Notes towards a theory of cultural forms and social reproduction; Monday morning and the millennium. Index.
Reviews: 'This book is a remarkable achievement. To attempt to summarise it is to trivialise its riches. It is the best book on male working class youth since Whyte's Street Corner Society (1943). It demands to be read and re-read and we shall feel its resonances for many years.' David H. Hargreaves, New Society
'(Paul Willis) begins his valuable study by suggesting "the difficult thing to explain about how middle class kids get middle class jobs is why others let them. The difficult thing to explain about how working class kids get working class jobs is why they let themselves". I don't share Mr Willis's perplexity ... But I do very much respect the attempt to observe what happens to these children in school, to record it as honestly as one can, and to pose the question why?"' Brian Jackson, The Guardian
'Paul Willis has done education a service in producing this book. If, as a result of reading it, those with some power in education were to institute changes based on the evidence he has presented, we should all benefit – and this includes "the lads".' Harry Rée, Times Education Supplement
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