Lad culture in Higher Education 

(funded by Society for Research into Higher Education)

This project is being jointly conducted by the University of York and Lancaster University. It aims to explore the phenomenon of 'lad culture' in higher education institutions, from the perspective of staff. Over the last 2-3 years we have witnessed in the UK a sharp increase in the number of concerns voiced about ‘laddism’, ‘laddish’ or ‘lad’ cultures in higher education (H.E). However, the ways in which lad cultures are manifest in H.E., as well as the pervasiveness and effects of them, are largely unknown. 
 
Concerns about lad cultures in H.E. have been reported in the press, where newspaper reports have tended to focus on anecdotal accounts of practices such as ‘slut dropping’ (where male students offer women lifts home after night-time socials but leave them stranded miles away from home); ‘hazing’ (initiation ceremonies usually linked to male sports teams); as well as more widely reported events such as fancy dress parties with themes that have included ‘pimps and hoes’ and ‘geeks and sluts’ (The Independent, 11/10/2012). Concerns have also been fuelled by websites such as UniLad – a misogynist website which has featured rape-supportive articles - which has a related Facebook site with over 500,000 ‘likes’. In addition, ‘Rate your shag’ Facebook sites were set up linked to various universities, on which students gave marks out of ten to people (who were sometimes identified) on their sexual prowess. These and other similar practices and instances have been broadly labelled as aspects of ‘lad culture’.
 
The small amount of research conducted so far on lad culture in H.E. does suggest there are reasons to be concerned about it. To date, the work has considered students’ perspectives only; no research has considered whether staff at universities consider lad culture to be a problem, or whether universities are doing anything to tackle it (although our conversations with senior university staff in preparing this bid suggests there are concerns). The proposed project – which is a stand-alone project, but also will act as a pilot for further work – will explore the perspectives of a variety of key staff in six universities who engage with student issues on a frequent basis. 

Staff:
Dr. Vanita Sundaram (York)
Professor Carolyn Jackson (Lancaster)
 

Presentations

Are 'laddish masculinities' a problem in Higher Education? Exploring the perspectives and responses of Higher Education staff. European Conference on Educational Research, 1-5 September 2014, Porto.

Is 'lad culture' a problem for Higher Education? Exploring the views of staff in UK universities. Society for Research into Higher Education Conference, 11-13 December 2014, Wales.

Are 'laddish masculinities' a problem in Higher Education? Reporting on the perspectives and responses of Higher Education staff. Gender and Education Association Interim Conference, 9-11 December 2014, Melbourne.