Contemporary public schools and the life process : cultural and ideological dimensions of the lived experience
The research is an analysis of the 'process of development' of a sample of sixteen subjects who attended 'public school' during the term of office of the present government.The specific methodology of the study was that of the 'life-history', in which each subject produced a written account of their life. This was followed by a taped interview which allowed elaboration of issues raised and discussion of aspects of experience not previously covered. Questionnaires were sent to headmasters in order to (a) gauge the specific values of particular schools and (b) to triangulate, where possible, information provided by subjects on the nature of their schooling.The research offers a contribution to sociological discussion at a number of levels:(1) it provides information on the process of elite production and reproduction, and the role in this of 'institutions of influence' and the individual's mediation of the input from these sources;(2) central sociological themes and concepts have been utilized, assessed and developed;(3) aspects of public school life previously accorded limited or inaccurate attention have been subject to empirical and theoretical analysis. The interaction of class and gender, control and hierarchy, the continued relevance of 'fagging' and the 'old boy' network and crucially the nature of sub-cultural affiliations are the principal examples;(4) the nature of the sector's self presentation is outlined;(5) this specific utilization of the life-history technique illuminates its value and potential as a sociological method.