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‘The right to aspire to achieve’: performing gendered and class privilege at elite private schools in Auckland, New Zealand

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The aspirations of young people provide a lens to examine the performance of gendered and classed privilege. While current research tends to focus on working class men, the role of privilege in shaping aspirations, understood as a socially and economically mediated navigational capacity, often remains unmarked. Drawing on aspirations articulated by boys attending elite private schools in Auckland, New Zealand, this paper explores narratives of young people’s aspirations for the future in terms of education, employment, and social networks. A belief in a right to aspire to achieve emerges, revealing how the performance of gender and class norms contributes to the reproduction of privilege. The intersectional nature of privilege is also highlighted, as while discourses of masculinity pervade understandings of being and becoming, class is an overriding factor influencing the performance of privilege through aspirations. The paper concludes by outlining a notion of nascent elite masculinity. It is contended that examining the performance of nascent elite masculinity at elite private schools is a means to expose the operation and reproduction of systems of privilege.
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Keywords: Aspirations; class; elite private schools; masculinities; privilege

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Environment, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: October 3, 2018

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