Dual Structures: Why Culture Matters in Schools
Using the stories of various students, this introductory chapter describes the social context of the educational issues discussed: how school desegregation as an educational policy and practice has occurred in two dissimilar socio-demographic contexts: one a white-majority and the other a black-majority society. Second, it discusses important theoretical frameworks and concepts associated with the subsequent analyses of how to shape the cultural environments of schools to better incorporate previously disadvantaged groups. This chapter argues that the convergence of practices in mixed schools within both societies owe to the universal nature of deeply rooted ideas about the “other.” The main argument is that “social” and “symbolic” boundaries in schools impede the development of cultural flexibility among students and educators in terms of identities, social relationships, academic behaviors, and school practices.
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