In a study by P.Willis ‘Learning to Labour’ he identified two distinct white working class male cultures, which strongly influenced their career paths. Christine Griffin wondered whether she would find ‘ similarly strong cultural connection between the worlds of school and waged work for young white working class women’. She also had several other specific aims:
– To find out the differences between relationships in girls groups and boys groups.
– To show different opinions on future jobs in boys and girls groups.
– To provide information on a wide range of female students.
– To show that it’s more complicated to study girls than the lads.
The research was a longitudinal study following a group of white working class women from 6 different schools in Birmingham. She interviewed 180 school students, some of them individually and some in groups. Research was conducted in different stages: she used a series of interviews and case studies with different groups, and conducted the study in different stage. Stage 1 was based on a wide range of female students. The 2nd stage was focused on 25 women who left the five of these schools in 1979 with a few or no academic qualifications (refers to WC people). She visited each of these women individually every couple of months in different places such as home, coffee shops, pubs, etc, during a 2-year period. In addition, she carried out 10 more case studies about jobs in offices, factories and engineering.
In 1980 she also interviewed a group of unemployed women.
In her research, Christine Griffin employed two stages. In the first one she interviewed a wide ethnographic range of female students ‘in order to place the experiences of those who were interviewed after leaving school into a broader social context’. This also gave her a chance to see how the different social groupings interacted. In the second stage she focused on 25 white working class girls who had low academic achievements, following their progress into jobs. Griffin concentrated on these particular girls because they fitted closely into the culture of ‘white working class girls’ and most closely mirrored ‘the lads’ in Willis’ study.
Two forms of interviews were used, one individual, one in groups. The groups interviews allowed her to look at the culture within the groups, observe the relationships between the girls and weather there was an effect of dominate characters within the group.
The individual interviews may have been chosen as a research method because the girls being interviewed may feel more comfortable talking one on one. This interview set up can have the effect of encouraging people to be more honest in their responses. Particularly in a study like this where the presence of the girl’s peers may affect their responses, for example they might feel that they have to agree with other people’s opinions.
She also visited the girls every couple of months to see how they developed and to get a bigger picture of their lives.
In the employment 10 she looked at different kinds of jobs to have a clear idea about them, this would give her sufficient background information to understand some of the comments made by the girls.
Griffin chose to use informal, flexible interview. I think she may have chosen this method because the informality often allows interviewees to relax and open up. It also allows the interviewers to get the participants to elaborate on particular points of interest. Questionnaires do not allow this and I think this may be one of the reasons why she chose interviews for her method. Informal interviews are often preferable to formal ones in that sort of research. Because of the relaxed atmosphere the interviewers’ preference is less likely to affect the responses. Griffin used repeated interviews over two years, which would give her the opportunity to develop a rapport with her subjects.
Her choice of research method may have been influenced by Paul Willis’. He chose to use qualitative rather than quantitative methods, using a combination of interviews and observation.
Christine Griff looked for two distinct female cultures like the lads and earoles in Willis study and identified ‘snobs’ (girls for office jobs) linked to the earoles and another group who rejected ‘posh job’ which could be linked to the ‘lads’. However she was unable to identify pro and anti school cultures of Willis study. She concluded that Willis study simply ‘ cannot be applied to young working class women in any straightforward manner.
Christine discovered that girls’ choices seemed more complicated, unlike Willis findings. Whether they ended up in office or factory didn’t necessarily coincide with their friendship groups.
There seemed to be a link between being a ‘troublemaker’ and having a negative attitude towards office jobs. But this didn’t ultimately affect their eventual jobs. Many ‘troublemakers’ ended up in office jobs: ‘The lack of cultural connection between young women’s friendship groups and attitudes in school and their eventual first job destinations was the clearest indication that Willis analysis could not readily be applied to young white working class women’.
This can’t be applied to girls because of different structures of female friendship groups; conformity has different meanings for girls. The association of jobs as feminine or unfeminine affected their choices as well as whether they were ‘posh’ jobs or not.
The interviews were informal, in the real life situation and were repeated. This suggests about validity of the research. Also that fact that females are likely to be more open and honest may lead to validity.
As interviewees were from a wide range of students, this would give good general picture, which suggests about representative.
One of the limitations of this research is that fact that the experiment was only conducted in Birmingham. And we can’t generalise about all girls from just one area.
Christine uses quotes from girls, if they were from taped conversations, her data would be accurate and reliable. Although interviewer’s presence may effect subjectivity.
Because it’s very qualitative, it’s opened to interpretation, possible that Griffin has subjectively analysed the findings. Somebody else may differently interpret the findings.