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Boffin and geek identities: abject or privileged?

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High achievement, and in particular, the role of the academically diligent and successful ‘boffin’ or ‘geek’, are notably under-researched areas in the sociology of education. Issues around gender and other aspects of identity in relation to such pupils are particularly under-researched. In this Viewpoint article we draw on evidence from our recent research projects including young people interpolated to, or identifying with, the subject position of ‘boffin/geek’ and media representations of such positions. We debate some tensions between our work, drawing out shared findings. The article considers issues around capital, experience, and the extent of exclusion/inclusion for boffins/geeks, discussing to what extent such young people can be considered marginalised and abjected or agentic and privileged. We argue that structural factors such as gender, social class, ‘race’, age, and institutional location impact on these constructions and outcomes.
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Keywords: achievement; identities; popular culture; queer theory; sociology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Educational Studies, Goldsmiths,University of London, London, UK 2: Royal Society of Arts, London, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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