an ethnography of social science at a Swedish elite school
Keywords:social science education, classroom ethnography, micro-interaction, power, elite school, recognition and misrecognition, Goffman
- At an elite school in Sweden, social science education contradicts the ideals of democratic education.
- Micro-power actions change when students outperform their teacher’s subject knowledge.
- Micro-interactional power is expressed by recognition and misrecognition in the classroom.
- As an observer in the elite school, one simultaneously becomes loud and invisible.
- Further ethnographic “studies up from below” are needed in social science education.
Purpose: This paper offers insights into the dynamic of misrecognition in an elite school. It presents new findings on micro-interactional power relations in the classroom and argues for additional ethnographies of social science education in elite schools.
Methodology: This paper uses an ethnographic method. Its research employs the observational position of a “belonging stranger” is put forward in contrast to the idea of “going native”. The focus is on the power of micro-interaction.
Findings: A key empirical finding is the change in power relations that occurs when students outrank their social science teacher in subject knowledge.
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