Browsing by Author "Wikholm, Pia Karoliina"

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  • Wikholm, Pia Karoliina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    Besides the knowledge-based learning, the school plays a central role in students` identity formation. The study aims to analyze girls' appearance and style related options in the ninth grade in a Swedish-speaking high school, and to examine how this is connected with identity formation. The research questions are: How do girls use clothing and style related choices in shaping their own identity? What aspects of appearance do the girls perceive as important in school? What affects one's own style? The study was ethnographic, the collection of data began in the autumn of 2010 and lasted until spring 2011. The core of the material for this study consists of a diary project conducted with 12 girls in grade nine. Semi-structured interviews were carried out based on the diaries. A thirteenth girl further contributed in an interview, though lacking the diary. The material has been analyzed with the use of thematic analysis, as well as content analysis regarding the images in the diaries, and partly also discourse analysis. The theoretical perspectives set out for the study examines issues concerning the perception of girls roles, positions and importance in girlhood studies, youth studies and in the public discourse. The issue of different interpretations and definitions of girlhood is also outlined in the study. The matter of status groups' influences in schools in terms of inclusion and exclusion for the yet accurate and vague, but unspoken rules existing within the school creates a framework for this study. This set of codes often takes place beyond the actual teaching. The identity in relation to clothing and style in both the school and the students` private life, is seen as a complex network, where social class, gender, friends, media, popular culture and status group membership, all have an impact on the individual. Identity is created and shaped through interplay with others. When the individuality and uniqueness are compounded with the social mechanisms of fashion, the individual faces a struggle of standing out or fitting in. The classic sociologically orientated ideas of fashion and taste are of great importance in this study, since social class plays a significant role in terms of clothes, style and identity. The result of the study clearly shows that the school has a central role in girls' identity making, where questions about selfidentification, group identity and alienation constantly are present. The girls' construction of style took place in an interaction between the school and other elements, such as friends, family, home and spare time activities. One of the key findings in the study is the dualism which prevailed in the matter of the girls balancing between fitting in with the crowd and the urge to be unique, constantly confronted with the peer pressure that was present in school. As their biggest source of inspiration for their own style the girls` mentioned fashion blogs, music, magazines, television shows, friends and oneself. The diaries functioned as a space where the girls could reflect upon different notions about girlhood through literary and visual expression. The diaries conveyed opportunities in showing the contrasts and the complexity in being a girl. Also, the study exhorts for further discussion according to the use of creative and multidisciplinary approaches to the field for educational research. The girls' use of clothing and style as means of expression embodied meanings, dreams, fantasies, and worked as extensions of their identity. This study shows that there is a certain style among the girls that is considered typical for Swedish-speaking Finns. The style has been influenced by upper class style, with roots in the more exclusive sports and recreational activities such as golf and sailing. The style influenced by the upper class, were considered worth striving for. The girls willingly bought certain garments and accessories, which can be seen as a form of symbolic capital. The need for conformity was vital and few students differed radically with regard to their appearances in the school. The study seeks to demonstrate the importance of the identity formation processes taking place in schools. The identity formation processes are essential in the lives of young people. Therefore, it would be important to consider both the problems and opportunities that exist in these identity making processes, and also to include them to a larger extent to the everyday life in schools.