ERIC Number: ED380857
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Oct
Schools in Community: Implications of a Sociological Framework.
Furman, Gail Chase
The concept of community is receiving much press but little theoretical classification. Sociological theory can provide a deeper theoretical understanding of the concept of community and the role of schools in community, by addressing the underlying factors that alienate schools from communities. This paper uses the classic Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft theoretical framework to analyze the role of schools in relation to the community, contemporary tensions surrounding this role, and the implications for policy that follow from this analysis. Several trends throughout the 20th century have eroded the balance between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft in the schools--a shift toward more bureaucratic and centralized governance, a move from "natural" to "rational" will, changes in community structure, and the erosion of democratic ideals. A sociological analysis shows that the weakening of school-community links is due to an interaction between changes in the community and changes in the school itself; highlights the qualities and experiences lost through the shift to Gesellschaft; and suggests a direction for action. Ways to pull the school back toward the Gemeinschaft pole include: (1) promote authentic involvement of local community members in school governance; (2) restructure local school-district governance; and (3) confront the discrepancy between the corporate ethic and democratic values. The application of sociological theory to the community issue points to the persistence of community and potentially productive ways for schools to reconnect with it. (Contains 22 references and 2 notes.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the University Council for Educational Administration (Philadelphia, PA, October 28-30, 1994).