Do Social Institutions Necessarily Suppress Individuals’ Need for Autonomy? The Possibility of Schools as Autonomy-Promoting Contexts Across the Globe

  • Johnmarshall ReeveEmail author
  • Avi Assor
Part of the Cross-Cultural Advancements in Positive Psychology book series (CAPP, volume 1)


Schools across the globe vary in how autonomy-promoting they are. Recognizing that some social institutions attain seemingly harmonious functioning by suppressing individuals’ autonomy, the first half of the chapter asks whether these hierarchical institutions necessarily need to be autonomy suppressive. The second half of the chapter illustrates how schools can function as autonomy-promoting cultural institutions, even when embedded within hierarchical societies that contrast social hierarchy against individual autonomy. To be truly autonomy-promoting, schools would be designed in ways that (a) allow students to shape important aspects of the school and support students attempts to form authentic, direction-giving values, goals, and interests and (b) offer frequently recurring opportunities for students to experience autonomy during learning activities. Numerous examples of these two key features of autonomy-promoting schools are offered. A final question asks how cross-culturally feasible autonomy-promoting schools are, and we conclude that they are quite feasible in egalitarian countries with autonomy-conductive social norms while they are unlikely cultural products in hierarchical countries with control-conducive social norms.


Subjective Norm Behavioral Control Social Institution Autonomy Support Political Support 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Class University Project Group, Department of EducationKorea UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of EducationBen-Gurion UniversityBeer-ShevaIsrael

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