Middle class kids 'attracted to ned and chav culture'

Teenage drinker The survey questioned more than 3,000 teenagers in and around Glasgow

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Young people from middle class backgrounds are also attracted to "ned culture", according to new research.

A Glasgow University survey found that some teenagers viewed terms such as "ned" (non-educated delinquent) or "chav" as a badge of pride.

Those who did were not exclusively from deprived backgrounds, but also came from affluent or middle-class families.

A total of 3,194 15-year-olds from 22 schools in and around Glasgow were interviewed for the study.

Researchers found that 15% of respondents willingly identified with the labels "ned" or "chav", even though they were often used as derogatory terms.

Ned girls

More girls (17.4%) identified with the terms than boys (12.7%).

About 22% of young people who identified with the terms were from less affluent or working class backgrounds.

Start Quote

Joining such groups may be to attain a better social standing within their own peer-group, even for young people from more middle-class backgrounds”

End Quote Robert Young Glasgow University

Researchers admitted they were surprised, however, that about 13% of those who identified with the terms were from more affluent or middle-class families.

The project was led by Robert Young, from the university's social and public health sciences unit.

He said: "When we began the study, we were keen to find out if any young people would positively identify themselves with the term 'ned' or 'chav', which have been overwhelmingly used as terms of abuse for a particular section of society.

"We also wanted to pinpoint which aspects of the culture might appeal to them.

"It appears that, regardless of social background or gender, a significant proportion of young people self-identify as 'neds', participate in the stereotypical behaviours associated with the label such as antisocial behaviour and alcohol and drug abuse, and share a lack of interest in education."

Mr Young said there was "a surprisingly low association between adopting a 'ned' identity and experience of deprivation", and that this was far less than "popular assumptions" would suggest.

"Those who identify as 'neds' are not exclusively from disadvantaged areas," he said.

'Rule-breakers'

"Instead, it seems that part of the appeal of joining such groups may be to attain a better social standing within their own peer-group and greater peer respect, even for young people from more middle-class backgrounds.

"'Neds' or 'chavs' are often respected by the young people we spoke to for being risk-takers, thrill-seekers or rule-breakers.

"This sort of 'cool' transgressive behaviour may contribute to the appeal of joining these groups and could explain young people's desire to identify themselves with an otherwise stigmatised social group."

Those who took part in the survey were asked questions which focused on levels of identification with a range of youth styles, socioeconomic and family background and levels of educational engagement.

The questions also looked to gauge cultural and lifestyle factors, such as how often the teenagers read books, their perceived peer status and alcohol intake, and any levels of truancy and delinquency.

The findings of the study have been published in the British Sociological Association's journal, Sociology.

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