Exploring selfhood in the 1960s through secondary data analysis
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Sub-brand to go here. Exploring selfhood in the 1960s through secondary data analysis. Jon Lawrence, University of Cambridge Jane Elliott, Centre for Longitudinal Studies. CLS is an ESRC Resource Centre based at the Institute of Education. Aims of the presentation.

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Exploring selfhood in the 1960s through secondary data analysis

Sub-brand to go here

Exploring selfhood in the 1960s through secondary data analysis

Jon Lawrence, University of Cambridge

Jane Elliott, Centre for Longitudinal Studies

CLS is an ESRC Resource Centre based at the Institute of Education


Aims of the presentation

Aims of the presentation

  • Introduce the essays written by eleven year old children in 1969 as a resource for secondary analysis

  • Explore the original context in which the essays were written

  • What can analysis of the essays tell us about children’s understandings of gender, class and family life in the late 1960s?

  • How can the essays be used in conjunction with quantitative material from the 1958 cohort study?

  • What are the limitations of the children’s essays as a source for historians and historical sociologists?


Hypothetical life history

Exam results

Parents’ social class

Voting behaviour

Training and skills

Parental divorce

Savings

Gets married

Born

1958

1st Child 1984

2nd Child

1987

Age 11

x

Age 7

Mother smoking

Job 1

Job 2

Job 3

Parental interest in school work

Psychological well being

Domestic division of labour

Working hours preferences

Free school meals

Maths and reading tests

Union membership

Teachers’ assessment of child’s behaviour

Hypothetical life history

Age 16

2000

2004

1991

1981

Age 23

Age 42

Age 46

Age 33


Ncds 11 year old essays

NCDS 11-year old Essays

  • At age 11, in 1969 NCDS Cohort members completed a short questionnaire (at school) about leisure interests, preferred school subjects and expectations on leaving school

  • They were also asked to write an essay on the following topic:

    ‘Imagine you are now 25 years old. Write about the life you are leading, your interests, your home life and your work at the age of 25. (You have 30 minutes to do this).’

  • 13669 essays completed, mean length 204 words

  • Copies of the original essays (in children’s handwriting) are available on microfiche at CLS and have been digitised.


Existing research on the essays

Existing research on the essays

  • A small sample of 521 essays have been coded for word count

    • Boys 180 words

    • Girls 228 words

  • All essays have been coded for employment aspirations, over 90% give a classifiable occupation

  • No other systematic coding and analysis of the essays has been carried out to date


Combining quantitative and qualitative methods

Combining quantitative and qualitative methods

  • Historical/cultural information provides a context for both qualitative and quantitative analyses

  • Analysis of quantitative data collected in 1969 provides a description of the context in which the essays were written

  • Large sample and quantitative variables allows for the creation of a stratified sample for in-depth/qualitative investigation

  • Qualitative – close reading of essays enables development of a coding frame that emerges from the text

  • Coding of essays using new coding frame produces a quantitative description of a sub-sample of the essays

  • Extracts from the essays accompanied by a quantitative summary of frequencies provides a more detailed description of the content and style of the essays

  • Quantitative variables van be used to identify a very specific sub-sample of essays for more in-depth qualitative analysis (and also provides the context for the essays analysed)


Historical context being eleven in 1969

Historical context: being eleven in 1969

  • Films and TV – cultural reference for children, discourses around gender and social class

  • Popular toys, games and activities

  • Family life: living conditions, housing, role of mother and father

  • School life: type of school, class sizes, gender of teacher & head teacher

  • Political context – including politics of class and gender


Popular toys of the 1960s

Popular toys of the 1960s

  • The ‘Toy of the year’ Awards began in 1965

    • 1965 James Bond Aston Martin Die cast Model car

    • 1966 Action Man

    • 1967 Spirograph

    • 1968 Sindy

    • 1969 Hot Wheels Cars


Exploring selfhood in the 1960s through secondary data analysis

1969 & 1970 Action man dolls

1969 & 1970 Sindy dolls


Home experiences

Home experiences

  • 46% of the eleven-year-olds were living in owner-occupied accommodation while 42% were in council housing

  • At age eleven, 44% of children had their own bedroom

  • When the child was eleven, 19% of girls and 16% of boys shared a bed with another member of the family

  • When the child was eleven, 54% of mothers and 51% of fathers were reported to take the child for walks, visits or outings ‘most weeks’

  • When the child was seven, 48.5% of mothers and 34.6% of fathers were reported to read to the child every week

  • When the child was sixteen [1974], 58% were in families with only a black and white TV, 41% were in families with a colour TV, 65% of families had a car and 16% of these had two cars.


School experiences 1969

School experiences (1969)

  • The majority of children were in primary schools when they wrote the essays

  • Only 4% of children were at independent schools

  • At age 11 the median class size was 36 pupils (mean 34.3), while at age 7 the median class size had been 37 with a mean of 35.25

  • 82% of children were in a school with a male head-teacher

  • 45% of children had a female class teacher


Politics of class and gender in 1969

Politics of class and gender in 1969

  • Wilson’s Labour had governed since 1964 elected on a managerial, ‘class-less’ manifesto stressing modernisation and meritocracy

  • From 1966 Labour lost a swathe of by-elections and councils in its traditional industrial, working-class heartlands

  • In 1968-69 Goldthorpe and Lockwood published The Affluent Worker in the Class Structure arguing that class differences remained potent

  • Many concluded that Labour had ‘betrayed’ the working-class rather than that class was ceasing to be a strong source of Labour support

  • Equal Pay Act passed 1970 (enacted 1975) ~ Dagenham ♀ strike 1968

  • But first Women’s Liberation conference in GB only in 1969 (@ Ruskin)


Coding the content of the essays

Coding the content of the essays

  • All essays were coded for occupational aspirations in the early 1970s (21 categories)

  • A coding frame for the main themes within the essays was developed by Elliott and Morrow

  • A subsample of approximately 500 essays have been transcribed and coded for these key themes (and are available from the UK Data Archive)


Results themes in boys and girls essays

Results: themes in boys’ and girls’ essays


Social class and children s essays

Social class and children’s essays

  • Social class (as Head’s occupation) had no impact on the frequency with which the children discussed holidays or foreign travel, leisure interests, money, or occupational skills

  • Non-manual children were more likely to write about: fathers, travelling by car & about living in the country

  • Including information on mother’s occupation & housing tenure into class model → made occupational skills & housing type significant

  • But most children – regardless of class background – appeared to write aspirational essays - imagining a future different from their present lives

  • Writing about poor children’s essays from 1976 in A Tidy House Steedman wrote that imagining adult lives: ‘was not a means of talking about the future, for there was none. Their lives had already been lived’

  • NCDS essays do not support this intepretation of unchanging working-class culture – but they


Social class and children s essays1

Social class and children’s essays

  • Social class (as Head’s occupation) had no impact on the frequency with which the children discussed holidays or foreign travel, leisure interests, money, or occupational skills

  • Non-manual children were more likely to write about: fathers, travelling by car & about living in the country

  • Including information on mother’s occupation & housing tenure into class model → made occupational skills & housing type significant

  • But most children – regardless of class background – appeared to write aspirational essays - imagining a future different from their present lives

  • Writing about poor children’s essays from 1976 in A Tidy House Steedman wrote that imagining adult lives: ‘was not a means of talking about the future, for there was none. Their lives had already been lived’

  • NCDS essays do not support this interpretation of unchanging working-class culture – but they DO suggest aspiration was often marked by class


Class and the qualitative analysis of ncds essays

Class and the Qualitative analysis of NCDS Essays

  • Essays coded BLIND for how children talked about their futures

  • We coded whether future “wholly unbounded,” “limited or constrained”, “stable and certain” or “unstable and/or incoherent”

  • Stable/Unstable futures did not correlate with child’s social class

  • ‘Middle-class’ children 5 times more likely to conjure “unbounded futures” than ‘working-class’ (c. 3 times more than ‘intermediate’)

  • ‘Working-class’ children almost 4 times more likely to describe a “limited or constrained” future than ‘middle-class’ children (‘intermediate’ children were 3 times more likely to do so)

  • BUT when only girls’ essays were analysed this difference ceased to be significant – ‘middle-class’ girls also imagined constrained futures


Class and the qualitative analysis of ncds essays1

Class and the Qualitative analysis of NCDS Essays

  • Essays coded BLIND for how children talked about their futures

  • We coded whether future“wholly unbounded,” “limited or constrained”, “stable and certain” or “unstable and/or incoherent”

  • Stable/Unstable futures did not correlate with child’s social class

  • ‘Middle-class’ children 5 times more likely to conjure “unbounded futures” than ‘working-class’ (c. 3 times more than ‘intermediate’)

  • ‘Working-class’ children almost 4 times more likely to describe a “limited or constrained” future than ‘middle-class’ children (‘intermediate’ children were 3 times more likely to do so)

  • BUT when only girls’ essays were analysed this difference ceased to be significant – ‘middle-class’ girls also imagined constrained futures


Ncds essay example 1 unbounded but unstable

NCDS Essay – Example 1 (unbounded but unstable)

  • My age is twenty Five. I am a manager of a big firm I am not married but I am engadged [engaged] to a young lady called Paula she is 21. Her job is my secroday [secretary]. Every Saturday I am at Chelsea football match with Paula. After the match we have a drink then drive home. Once a month we have a firm party. I have four cars Rolls, Bently and 2 minis. When at work I plan all the new building contracts. These contracts include sky scrapers, Bungalow, Houses, Farms and even Docks. The Americans have sent us a contract for 200,000,000 dollers to build a city on the moon. I live in a big house called 'The Villa'. In it there is 10 bedrooms for entertaining guests, 5 bathrooms and toilets. In the garden there is a swimming pool as big as Putney and open air with heating A private yacht, you might call me a millionare.I am only this because my mum owns the firm. My mother owns 27 pubs 18 sweet shops 9 toy shops and 13 Hotels plus 19 grocere [grocery] shops. I go to soc[i]al clubs and many firm meetings. In 1 months time I am of on a trip round the world for places to build towns ect ect. My first part of the Journey will be by privite jet the second by my Privite Yacht. I am takeing Paula and the Rolls with 12 men 4 Engineers the other 10 are architects [!] and the men who plan the site. When I was little I wanted to be a Footballer like GOARGE BEST but I saw this was not as good as being what I am now. My mother is now a widow my father left our family when I was 9. I have two brothers in this firm who are in a good position and a sister. But for me I am happy with my life and Paula and I intend to get married next month.

  • Male, Unskilled head of house [no father present] 511209D


Ncds essays example 2 bounded and stable

NCDS Essays – Example 2 (bounded and stable)

  • I am 25 years old. I am married have two children. My friends are all round about the same age as I am. My hobbies are reading, printing and model making. At home I mend things that broken cultery [cutlery,] chairs ect. I am a teacher. We live at Blackpool and go to the fair at holidays time and sometimes go to morecambe and hesham. The year after I would like to work in London for a few years.

  • Male, Skilled manual father 085016W


Social class and gender conclusions

Social class and gender: conclusions

  • In summary the essays appear to be very clearly gendered- but despite the gendered nature of the essays, both boys and girls have aspirations for family life

  • There appear to be subtle differences in how children ‘do’ gender depending on their social class

  • Compared with gender, there is much less evidence of ‘doing class’ within the essays, but class did influence HOW futures imagined


Website

Website

www.cls.ioe.ac.uk

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Appendix

Appendix


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