The effects of restructuring on primary teachers' work : a sociological analysis

Troman, Arthur Geoffrey (1997). The effects of restructuring on primary teachers' work : a sociological analysis. PhD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

Whatever the exact form the restructuring of education systems takes, it means a fundamental re-definition of the work of teaching. In the restructuring process not only does the nature of work change but also school organisation and teacher culture. This study seeks to understand the teachers' experience of work in the restructured school. Restructuring is considered at three levels: 1) a cross-national and educational system macro-level; 2) a school organisation meso-level; and 3) an interpersonal and personal micro-level. The prime orientation is to explore ~he impact of a range of restructuring policies in these various sites and to describe and analyse the changes which have taken place in teachers' work. This is done through the use of qualitative data which are derived from original ethnographic research in a primary school. The aim here, using an interpretive approach, is to understand the effects of restructuring through the experiences and perspectives of the headteacher and teachers and to discover the meanings which they hold for the changes. These, it is argued, are of significance for the teachers' sense of self and their experience of roles. The social processes attending the restructuring of teachers' work are viewed through three analytical frameworks - symbolic interactionist theory, intensification theory and policy trajectory theory. The data generated facilitated the 'grounding' of the policy process and provided a test in new circumstances for the intensification thesis. The study concludes that the implementation of policy did not involve a simple linear and mechanical process. Policy was implemented according to actors' interpretations and motivations and resistance, as much as compliance, was a feature of the teachers' responses. With respect to theories of deprofessionalisation and intensification it was found that while many aspects of the teachers' work were contributing to intensification, the experience of intensified work was, in some cases, resulting in the teachers experiencing enhanced professionalism rather than becoming deprofessionalised.

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