chapter  7
19 Pages

Revisiting a 1980s “Moment of Critique”: Class, Gender and the New Economy

Beginning with my ethnographic investigation of Freeway High (Working Class Without Work, Routledge, 1990), and culminating with intensive follow-up interviews with these same students in 2000-2001, I track a group of the sons and daughters of the workers of “Freeway Steel” and similar such industries over a 15-year time period. Exploring identity formation among American White working-class male and female students in relation to the school, economy, and family of origin, Working Class Without Work captures the complex relations among secondary schooling, human agency, and the formation of collective consciousness within a radically changing economic and social context (Bluestone & Harrison, 1982). Most widely known, I suggest in the volume that young women exhibit what I call a “glimmer of critique” regarding traditional gender roles in the White working-class family and that young men are ripe for New Right consciousness given their strident racism and male dominant stance in an economy that, like that immortalized in the justly celebrated The Full Monty and the BBC serial The Missing Postman (Walkerdine, Lucey, & Melody, 2001), offers them little.