The ethnographies of youth culture and schooling Produced by the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies and its followers had a major impact on educational sociology during the late 1970s and 1980s. Despite this invaluable contribution, important theoretical and methodological problems emerged in their treatment of class and culture. In particular, the untheorised presence of the ‘new middle class’and a confusing notion of 'dominant culture’ weakened the coherence of their analyses. This article traces these problems from the early studies of youth culture through to more recent school ethnographies. It concludes by stressing the relevance of critical concepts like class and culture within contemporary debates emerging from the 'new’ educational settlement.