Beyond Pluralistic Patterns of Power

Research on the Micropolitics of Schools

Authored by: Betty Malen , Melissa Vincent Cochran , Anchala Sobrin

Handbook of Education Politics and Policy

Print publication date:  November  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415660426
eBook ISBN: 9780203074107
Adobe ISBN: 9781135106775


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The micropolitics of schools is an evolving but arguably underdeveloped field of study (Blasé & Anderson, 1995; Scribner, Aleman, & Maxy, 2003). Its conceptual boundaries and distinctive features remain elusive and contested. Its empirical foundation is broad in scope but uneven in quality. For example, studies span the space from community politics to classroom and corridor dynamics, employ various theoretical orientations, focus on different units of analysis, encompass a maze of loosely defined formal and informal arenas, and address an array of salient topics and prevalent policy issues. Some studies unpack the dynamic, power-based, and interest-driven processes through which conflict is regulated and make clear the basis of judgments rendered; others do not. Some studies explain how and why cases were selected; others do not. Some studies support broader generalizations; others are more “existence proofs.” These attributes of the field confound the prospects for developing an exhaustive, integrated, and definitive review of literature on the micropolitics of schools. Thus we adopt more modest aims.

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