Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/7909
Title: The public boarding school: A sociological analysis
Authors: Wakeford, John
Keywords: Boarding schools;Private education;Complex organisations;Socialisation;Education;Social order
Issue Date: 1968
Publisher: School of Social Sciences Theses
Abstract: The English Public Boarding School is considered from a sociological perspective, and more particularly in the context of research in the field of complex organizations, as a residential organization. Concepts are used which have been developed in studies of other residential organizations such as military units, hospitals and prisons. The account is of an exploratory, descriptive case study of 'the research school', using a variant on the method of participant observation as the principal technique of data collection supplemented with data collected during visits to certain other public schools and an examination of published and unpublished documents by staff and past pupils. The size of these schools and their residential nature, which involves them in the custody of their pupils, give rise to certain specific organizational problems to which similar solutions have been devised by most of the schools. Certain aspects of the social process in the education provided by the schools are indicated in the examination of their admission procedures, processes of socialization on entry and the concomitants of organizational membership, of the agents and means of social control, together with a discussion both of the boys' perception of relative gratifications and deprivations with respect to various reference groups both within and without the school system and of the boys' different modes of adaptation to life in the socio-cultural context of the school. These schools belong to that category of complex organization which in addition to working through and with people work on them. The role of the school in socializing the boy and regulating his behaviour while a member of the school is emphasized, as education in the public boarding school is as much the attempt to socialize its pupils as to enable them to pass formal examinations or otherwise achieve academic ends, and it is with this former aspect of the schools that this account is primarily concerned. The schools' combined custodial and educational commitments make the maintenance of social order within them of fundamental significance. By anticipatory socialization in the home and at 'preparatory' school, and by their recruitment selection and admission procedures, by a formal system of control exercised partly through the prefect system, by the privilege system and certain ritualistic activities and ritualistic symbolization, the staff combine a high degree of organizational control with high scope and pervasiveness. During term a boy is engaged almost exclusively in activities involving other members of his school and organizational status embraces his life to an extent which is approached by few other types of organization in English society. Aspects of life at these schools are described which involve the pupils experiencing, rather than a sense of relative gratification, one of relative deprivation. The extent to which a particular boy experiences this is discussed in terms of disparities between his presenting culture on entry and the way of life associated with organizational membership, and in terms of his expectations and of the mode of adaptation and constellations of reference groups he has adopted at the time. The boys' responses to life in the socio-cultural context of the public boarding school are presented within the framework of a revised form of Merton's Typology of Individual Adaptation, and discussed in relation to the availability of the various modes of adaptation and to some of the determinants of their adoption by particular boys at certain stages of their school careers.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University.
URI: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/7909
Appears in Collections:Sociology
Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Theses

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