Feeling Lad Culture
: mapping the affective construction of students' subjectivity in relation to Laddism in Higher Education

  • Silvia Diaz-Fernandez

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Lad culture has been much talked about as an element of British Higher Education (HE). Lad culture, represented through a range of practices, from heavy alcohol consumption to banter, reproduces itself in University campuses in a multiplicity of ways. However, for many researchers it includes the common denominators of homosociality and, in varying degrees, sexism, misogyny, racism and homophobia. For many students, then, lad culture emerges as an ever-present threatening feeling in HE spaces, therefore initiating wider cultural panic over students’ safety and sexual lives, as well as, often, an accountability that locates responsibility for their own welfare back on the student.

Academic accounts of lad culture in HE have emphasised their relationship with hegemonic masculinity, as a theory that explains how some forms of masculinity maintain dominance, while other men are marginalised and femininity is repudiated. Emerging largely from this theory, literature has documented the way lad culture is performed and reproduced at different levels of education. I locate my work within this field. However, I also suggest that less attention has been paid to students who might be marginalised or otherwise underrepresented in concerns about lad culture. Furthermore, while research has broadly documented young women’s and men’s accounts of lad culture at University, there has been few who have attempted to read these experiences through the lens of affect.

This thesis explores the affective fabric of lad culture and the ways it shapes the students’ construction of subjectivity and negotiations of agency. Developing a feminist affective methodology underpinned by an intersectional approach to lad culture, this thesis analyses discourses drawn by 5 different groups of students drawing on data collected using the method of cooperative inquiry. The thesis concludes by arguing students made sense of lad culture and their subject position within it in ways that disrupt the figure of the passive victim when dealing with instances of harassment and assault. This thesis brings methodological and theoretical contributions to the field of feminist research. Specific theoretical contributions are made in the analysis through identifying ways of making sense of ‘sticky atmospheres’ and ‘laddish mis/recognition’. Nevertheless, the participants’ voices are the most crucial contribution, providing the opportunity to understand how lad culture affects them – how it feels – in their everyday lives.
Date of AwardFeb 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorAdrienne Evans (Supervisor), Gary Hall (Supervisor) & Anthony Luvera (Supervisor)

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