It is proposed that, for rural secondary schoolgirls, school is a site of contestation. Rural girls attempt to `use' school as a means of resisting traditional patriarchal definitions of a `woman's place'. In their efforts, the girls are thwarted by aspects of the school itself, the behaviour and attitudes of the boys in school, and also the `careers advice' which they receive. It is argued that the girls perceive school as being of greater importance to them than is the case for the boys, and that these gender differentiated perceptions are related to the `social' lives of the girls and boys, and also to their future employment prospects. Unlike the boys, the girls experience considerable restrictions concerning these two areas. This theory was grounded in an ethnographic study which was conducted in and around a village in a rural county in England. As well as developing the theory through ethnography, the thesis contains tests of certain hypotheses generated by the theory. These hypotheses relate to the gender differentiated perspectives of secondary school pupils with regard to the areas of school itself, life outside school, and expectations for the future. The quantitative methods used to test these hypotheses confirm that there is a tendency for girls to be more positively orientated to school than the boys; to feel less able to engage in preferred activities outside school time than the boys, and also to be more willing to move away from the area than the boys. For comparative purposes these hypotheses were tested in two other rural locations and the results indicate the need for further research of a quantitative kind into the context of girls' schooling in such locations. A critical review of literature is presented, as is a detailed discussion of the research process itself.
|Date of Award||1986|