Financial disadvantage does not necessarily lead to pupils’ exclusion from American-style high school proms, according research carried out by the Universities of Bath, Lancaster and Stirling.
Whilst the study found adolescents from low-income families spent a lower amount than the UK average of £400 on their prom, it also revealed their access to the prom was navigated through personal and social coping strategies.
The British Academy-funded study involved conducting in-depth interviews with adolescent males and females from five secondary schools in the North of England.
Professor Maria Piacentini from Lancaster University Management School said: “These teenagers did not necessarily perceive themselves to be disadvantaged and were able to use the resources available to them to overcome financial shortfalls.”
The study revealed that whilst less affluent adolescents relinquished limo hire – suggesting this was not central to the event – their outfits, hairstyles, spray tans and accessories were all evident in their preparation for prom.
Researcher Hayley Cocker, also from LUMS, added: “They used their experience and social networks to reduce the cost associated with prom. Items for prom were often found online at a fraction of the retail price and extended family members were able to assist with beauty treatments and products.”
Interestingly, the researchers found schools had strategies in place to overcome financial concerns, with a number of schools dedicating class time and school facilities to dressmaking - enabling pupils to make their own prom dresses.