SOMETIMES I wonder what academics do all day.
Then I read a few academic papers to satisfy my curiosity. This makes me wonder what academics do all day. It's a self-perpetuating cycle.
This week I was reading a paper by sociologists at Glasgow University who were chatting to 15-year-olds about neds; what makes someone a ned and how do they feel about being called a ned. It was found that the youngsters quite like being called neds. It's a badge of honour.
It took speaking to 3194 teenagers to work that out. In the words of one teenager: "Duh." The good folks behind the study must have been privately or home schooled or maybe their high school experience was so grim they blocked it from their minds. I'd sympathise with that.
Nearly 30% of those asked said the neds are "highly respected" by their classroom peers. Of course they are. Fear breeds a false respect and no-one's feart of the perfectly behaved kids, are they? The study showed neds are not always from socially disadvantaged backgrounds but opt in to the lifestyle in order to gain social standing.
Robert Young, who led the study, said neds are seen as "risk-takers, thrill-seekers or rule-breakers and this sort of 'cool' transgressive behaviour may contribute to the appeal of joining an ... otherwise stigmatised social group". In the words of a second teenager: "Obvs."
Nobody worth their salt opts in to the far more socially stigmatised teenage group: the swots. "You're a swot," are words to strike fear into any young person's heart. "You're a ned," would at least be said as the speaker scuttled off in the opposite direction. "You're a swot," is far more of a battle cry, often a salvo fired on sight of a pupil reading a book. A ned is likely to have fists to protect himself with or a firm hair-pulling grip for the female of the species. There's only so much shield-like power attached to a copy of The Chalet School stories – not much.
Neds are found to dog school, scorn education and enjoy rap music and the respect of their peers. Swots, conversely, spend their teenage years bathed in a fine mist of sweat and tears as they fret over exam results, band practice, PE and dodging the neds chasing them for sport.
I wish I'd been a ned. Life would have been so much easier.
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