MANY middle-class teenagers are now proud to identify themselves as "neds", a new Glasgow University study has found.
Far from being derogatory, the term can be viewed as a badge of pride, the report suggested.
Researchers at Glasgow University interviewed more than 3000 15-year-olds from in and around the city, and found the link between so-called ned behaviour and a deprived upbringing was "surprisingly low".
About 13 per cent of the young people they interviewed from more affluent or middle-class families identified with the label ned, or non-educated delinquent, compared with 22 per cent from working-class backgrounds.
More girls (17.4 per cent) associated themselves with the term than boys (12.7 per cent).
Robert Young, of the university's MRC social and public health sciences unit, said: "It appears that, regardless of social background or gender, a significant proportion of young people self-identify as 'neds', participate in the stereotypical behaviours associated with the label, such as anti-social behaviour and alcohol and drug abuse, and share a lack of interest in education.
"Those who identify as 'neds' are not exclusively from disadvantaged areas.
"Instead, it seems that part of the appeal of joining such groups may be to attain a better social standing within their own peer group and greater peer respect, even for young people from more middle-class backgrounds."
A total of 3194 pupils from 22 schools were asked to complete a questionnaire and took part in an interview on their parents' employment and social class.
They were questioned on family background and cultural and lifestyle factors such as how often they read books, drank alcohol and played truant.
Mr Young said: "'Neds' or 'chavs' are often respected by the young people we spoke to for being risk-takers, thrill-seekers or rule-breakers, and this sort of 'cool' transgressive behaviour may contribute to the appeal of joining these groups, and could explain young people's desire to identify themselves with an otherwise stigmatised social group."
Among those who identified themselves as neds, 33.1 per cent told researchers they had drunk Buckfast, a tonic wine often associated with ned culture, in the last week.
The figure for "non-neds" was 6.4 per cent.
According to the survey, 24.7 per cent of "neds" were in trouble with the police in the last month compared to 6.2 per cent of others, but 27.8 per cent claimed to be highly-respected by school peers versus 12 per cent of others.
The paper, titled "Can Neds be non-delinquent, educated or even middle class?", is published in the latest edition of the British Sociological Association's journal Sociology.