International Handbook of Teachers and Teaching

Volume 3 of the series Springer International Handbooks of Education pp 939-970

The Micropolitics of Teaching

  • Joseph BlaseAffiliated withThe University of Georgia

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During the last two decades, research on teachers and teaching has produced significant findings on the social and cultural aspects of work. What is loosely referred to as teacher work-life literature provides valuable insights into the structural and experiential dimensions of teachers’ work. Studies of cultural norms, satisfaction, commitment, gender, professionalism, career, socialization, induction, purposes, and sentiments have appeared in this literature. For example, substantial work on teachers’ lives has been completed using life history and narrative methods (Goodson, 1992; Schubert & Ayers, 1992). In fact, research on teachers’ worklives has produced substantial data relevant to understanding the micropolitics of teaching; that is, how teachers use formal and informal power to achieve their ends in school organizations. However, because these data have not been interpreted from a micropolitical perspective, their significance along these lines has not been apparent. And although some theoretical attention has been given to the political aspects of teachers’ work by feminists (Grumet, 1988; Lather, 1991) and critical theorists (e.g., Apple, 1986), little empirical work on the everyday micropolitics of teaching has been completed until recently.