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There’s no balance there’s only chaos’: Men students’ experiences and expressions of negative emotions in prestigious degree programmes
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6201-9135
Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8426-2275
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper explores men students’ experiences and expressions of negative affect, especially shame and fear. We ask how these are informed by gender, social class and prestigious higher education contexts. Context and social categories inform affect-norms, which in turn inform understandings of, for example, which forms of affect are legitimate to experience and express. The importance of considering affective dimensions in education has been demonstrated beyond their effects on well-being. Previous research implies, for example, that joy and pride, as well as shame, fear of failure and test-anxiety, have implications for students’ motivation, effort and choice of educational trajectories. 

 

The paper draws on data from an ongoing qualitative, large-scale interview study about masculinity and men students in England and Sweden (2015-2018). Semi-structured interviews (approx. 1-1.5 hours) were conducted with students and staff in Law, Medicine and Physics engineering, i.e. prestigious and stressful programmes that recruit primarily top-achieving, middle-class young people.

 

The findings suggest that experiencing (overwhelming) pressure and some degree of exam-anxiety were expected and normalized in these milieus. This applied to both men and women, although men overall were seen as more likely than women to conceal stress and anxiety. Furthermore, expectations relating to degree programme, as well as gender, were important in shaping affect-norms. For example, whereas law and engineering students were expected to conceal ‘weaknesses’, medical students had considerably more leeway to be open about difficulties, and peers were expected to respond sympathetically. Of course, men students within programmes do not constitute a homogeneous group, so we also investigate differences at an individual level about how pressures were felt and expressed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London/UK, 2017.
National Category
Gender Studies Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-339932OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-339932DiVA, id: diva2:1177080
Conference
Gender and Education Association Conference, London,21 June -23 June 2017
Projects
VetenskapsrådetAvailable from: 2018-01-24 Created: 2018-01-24 Last updated: 2018-02-28Bibliographically approved

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Kalat, Anne-SofieSalminen-Karlsson, Minna

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