We Don’t Need No Education? Exploring the Educational Experiences of Young Footballers

Chris Platts, Andy Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Drawing upon data generated by 303 young male footballers employed in 21 professional clubs in England and Wales, this article explores some key aspects of players’ masculinities, identities and engagement with education. Although many players described their educational experiences in largely negative terms, some aspired towards averageness, or middling, which is often central to working-class identifications with education. Other players found education ‘easy’, engaged in effortless achievement and had begun to internalize elements of the neoliberal achievement ideology. The propensity for players to engage in copying and pasting from the work of others, and to regard their courses as being almost impossible to fail, was consistent with neoliberal ideologies of credentialism and performativity. The findings suggest that a more nuanced understanding of young footballers’ education is warranted, and their aspirations and experiences can at least be partly understood as responses to the prevailing neoliberal learning environments which they inhabit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-941
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number7
Early online date9 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2018


  • Football
  • Neoliberal
  • Masculinity
  • Performativity
  • Young Males
  • neoliberal
  • masculinity
  • young males
  • performativity


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