Twenty-First Century Working-Class Girls' Imagined Futures: A Child-Centred Socialist Feminist Research Project




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title


De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


Gender and class inequality exist throughout UK society however topical debates often focus on the discussion of sexualisation of women, with other gendered and classed spheres of oppression fading from view.

Working with 11-and 12-year-old girls from working-class backgrounds this research adapts Mitchell’s (1971) spheres of subjection to explore how young working-class girls imagine their futures in relation to media socialisation. Drawing on socialist feminism and intersectionality this revives class and gender debates whilst allowing for other vectors of identity, such as regionality to be explored. This explores how working-class girls imagine their futures, whilst understanding how they perceive media as a “norm” shaping agent of socialisation. The child-centred feminist standpoint epistemology focuses on hearing the girls’ voices through co-participatory research methods.

Key findings demonstrate these working-class girls are highly media literate, who wish to challenge media representations, that exclude “girls like us”. The girls are aware of gendered norms and how media renders girls like them invisible. The girls have a variety of “imagined futures”, but their desire to be independent and autonomous, is tempered by their awareness of needing to balance their imagined futures in the public and private sphere. The girls are aware their lives will be a balancing act, between the public and domestic sphere, being feminine / attractive but not too sexy, challenging norms and fitting in. Mothers play an important role in the girls’ lives, with their “imagined futures” shaped by a desire to either be similar or different. Whilst media is not considered influential, the girls discuss it as influencing “others”, and suggest this contributes to peer pressure they feel the need to conform to. Central to these findings is how gender, class and regionality intersect to create a specific life experience for the girls and offer a limited range of “choices”.





Research Institute