Master Niri Talberg
Young Poker players. Learning processes between education and stigmation.
The main topic for this thesis is to study young poker players’ learning processes, how they describe challenges combining education with poker, and stigma associated with poker playing. The thesis can be placed within educational sociology, although it can to a large extent be described as interdisciplinary.
The design is pragmatic where I don’t want to lock myself to just one perspective or theoretical framework, but instead combine a qualitative and a quantitative methodology and choose theories suitable for the following four research questions:
1. Characteristics of young poker players. Is poker particularly attractive for students with good grades?
2. What contribution does situated learning and learning in a community of practice provide us to analyze the players' learning process?
3. What dilemmas and challenges do the players describe when trying to combine poker with education?
4. In what way do the players describe stigma associated with poker?
The research design was inspired by empirical phenomenology. The first research question was investigated using a quantitative study of 953 high school students. The last three research questions were investigated by qualitative interviews of 15 poker players.
In the first article, I found that boys with good grades were more likely to have played poker than boys with lower grades. In the second article, I identified two different communities of practice (friendly and competitive) with different norms. I also found that online poker had enabled a variety of new learning artefacts. In the third article, I describe how many of the informants have felt compelled to choose between poker and education, since competing at the highest level of poker requires that you spend a lot of time on the game. In the last article, I found that the players to a large extent felt stigmatized by non-players, and therefore they often tried to hide their gameplay from others. Many of them felt like outsiders, and getting back into work or education was regarded as difficult since poker was not seen as “CV-friendly”