In terms of education attainment in the United Kingdom, the white working class remains the lowest performing ethnic group, and their academic underperformance has ominous implications for their long-term life chances. This chapter investigates how white working-class boys experience pathologization and deficit discourses in their schooling as they negotiate the discipline structures in three educational sites in South London (two state comprehensive schools and one Pupil Referral Unit). Drawing upon empirical data from an in-depth sociological study of 23 white working-class boys (Stahl, 2015), this chapter makes theoretical connections between how pathologization – both within the school and wider society – contributes to how these young men become constructed with and through deficit discourses contributing significantly toward low academic achievement. Where whiteness often equates to power and entitlement, in the schooling contexts of this study whiteness was often socially constructed as undesirable and equated with low aspirations, stagnation, and antieducational stances.
Garth D. Stahl
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