‘Lad cultures’ in higher education – two academic papers out

With my co-author Isabel Young, I have recently published two academic papers on our research into ‘lad cultures’ in higher education. One is focused on appreciating the agency expressed by the young women who resist these cultures, and the other contextualises ‘laddish’ behaviours and sexual bullying within the marketised higher education sector. Abstracts are below – contact me at a.e.phipps@sussex.ac.uk if you would like a copy of either or both of these papers.

‘Lad culture’ in higher education: agency in the sexualization debates
Alison Phipps and Isabel Young

Published in Sexualities (available via OnlineFirst here).

This article reports on research funded by the National Union of Students, which explored women students’ experiences of ‘lad culture’ through focus groups and interviews. We found that although laddism is only one of various potential masculinities, for our participants it dominated the social and sexual spheres of university life in problematic ways. However, their objections to laddish behaviours did not support contemporary models of ‘sexual panic’, even while oppugning the more simplistic celebrations of young women’s empowerment which have been observed in debates about sexualization. We argue that in their ability to reject ‘lad culture’, our respondents expressed a form of agency which is often invisibilized in sexualization discussions and which could be harnessed to tackle some of the issues we uncovered.

Neoliberalisation and ‘lad cultures’ in higher education
Alison Phipps and Isabel Young

Published in Sociology (available via OnlineFirst here)

This article links HE neoliberalisation and ‘lad cultures’, drawing on interviews and focus groups with women students. We argue that retro-sexist ‘laddish’ forms of masculine competitiveness and misogyny have been reshaped by neoliberal rationalities to become modes of consumerist sexualised audit. We also suggest that neoliberal frameworks scaffold an individualistic and adversarial culture amongst young people that interacts with perceived threats to men’s privilege and intensifies attempts to put women in their place through misogyny and sexual harassment. Furthermore, ‘lad cultures’, sexism and sexual harassment in higher education may be rendered invisible by institutions to preserve marketability in a neoliberal context. In response, we ask if we might foster dialogue and partnership between feminist and anti-marketisation politics.


Author: alisonphipps

Academic working on issues in the politics of the body - sexual violence, sex work, reproductive justice. Feminist; queer; Prince.

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