Dissertation ReflectionPosted: January 20, 2017
At the start of my time at university, my dissertation seemed like an unreachable goal which I never thought I would be capable of writing. Now after working so hard and getting it finished, I’m immensely proud of what I have achieved.
I knew that I wanted to write something to do with music in the 1960s, because this is something that I’m personally passionate about, and therefore will be more likely to enjoy the research and be more keen to start writing. I also have a soft spot for history, particularly the history of fashion, and already owned a lot of books on this subject, however I am only concerned about reading and learning about it, rather than putting it into practice and creating fashion outcomes. Because I know that I am not planning on going down a fashion route in either my subject studies in Textiles, or in my future work, it was important for me to incorporate this into my theory work. After studying sociology at A Level, I also have an interest in sociological concepts such as consumer culture and teenage delinquency, therefore decided to combine these factors to create my question:
A study into the influences and sociological factors which determined teenagers’ behaviour and lifestyle in the 1960s.
Initially I was toying with the idea of writing a business plan, because my plan is to work for myself after graduating, or the option with an abstract and a piece of artwork. However I decided against mainly because my idea for a topic didn’t naturally suggest a piece of artwork to be created and this may have been too much to complete alongside my practical subject work. I’m glad I decided to keep to the option of 8000-10,000 word thesis, because I felt that this amount of words was perfect to get across the point I wanted to make.
Research is always my favourite part of any project, and this also applies to the writing of my dissertation. I enjoyed the initial reading, especially due to the fact that I already owned a lot of the books, mainly ones written about The Beatles and the history of fashion. For the most part, I used a combination of books, online journals and films for my research, which gave me what I think is a well rounded understanding of my subject.
I feel that my proposal wasn’t as useful in writing my actually dissertation as it could have been, so if I was to write it again I would keep in mind the potential to use it to help me. As it happened, I didn’t end up using my proposal at all and this is something I would definitely change.
While writing, I have learnt a lot about myself and how I work best. Unlike a lot of my peers, I find it hard to concentrate if there is any background noise, such as music, television, or other people talking, so have now mastered the environment which I need to put myself in, in order to be productive. I realised that instead of putting aside a whole day to write, which I was initially doing, I work much more effectively in a ‘little and often’ way, by setting myself small goals to accomplish in a shorter amount of time. This also therefore assisted in putting me in a more positive mindset for the essay, as opposed to locking myself up for days and forcing myself to read or write. By doing a couple of hours here and there, reading on trains and discussing my findings with family and friends, this project was a part of my everyday life rather than something negative, constantly in the back of my mind, and this had a very positive effect on my final outcome.
The subject of teenagers in the 1960s it a lot more complex than I expected, and it was therefore hard for me to narrow down my findings when writing them up. To overcome this, I made myself headings under each chapter, and compiled all of my research unto these sections. This meant that I could then dwindle this down into key points and theories, in order to keep to a concise report. I particularly enjoyed reading Nigel Whiteley’s study on ‘style obsolescence’, where he analysed Britain as a consumer culture, buying throw away products in favour of purchasing something newer and more attractive. This was useful in applying it to teenagers, in terms of their new found spending power.
I was surprised at how helpful some of the films I watched were to my research. Although I hardly quoted them, they were just useful to gain an understanding of what life was like, and visual things like the way people were dressed or how they spoke. Quadrophenia was particularly crucial in this aspect, showing Mods and their dress and behaviour. Because the protagonist was a teenager himself, it was advantageous to see his behaviour and to empathise with him, for example regarding the older generations’ reactions.
Another reference which I took use from without quoting, was Alan Hammond’s book, ‘The Sixties Boys’. Initially, I quickly picked this up at my local library over Easter, thinking it was non-fiction, only to get it home and realise it was in fact a novel based on the author’s own experiences of growing up in the 60s. However it did actually turn out to be really useful in understanding the generation from a first hand account, as the protagonist travelled around with his band, battling unwelcoming elders, money troubles and girl problems.
The various study skills and key note lectures throughout the last two and a half years have been extremely useful to me. I know the skills I have learned will be useful to me in years to come, and they also greatly assisted me in writing this report.
Overall, writing my dissertation has been extremely difficult, but I have learnt a lot along the way. I am now looking forward to have this handed in, in order to focus completely on my subject work.