The data in this paper comes from an ethnographically-based study of Year 6 (10-11 year old) boys in an English junior school. It investigates the resources and strategies used and created by the boys to classify themselves, and to construct and perform their masculinity in a tightly regulated school where competitive sport (including playground football) is prohibited for the majority of the school year. The paper considers the relationship between the formal school culture and informal pupil culture, and, in particular, the options open, limited and closed to the boys to construct their masculinities and establish status/prestige within their immediate peer-group. One option open was being able to work hard in class without peer reprovement, but despite the limitation of competitive games/sport, the most favoured form of masculine status was still exemplified by embodied forms of athleticism and physicality. The paper also explores another way of gaining status which was by a form of verbal abuse known as ‘cussing’: this was a pervasive and prevalent part of school life, and is viewed as another form of competitive, stylised, performance
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