London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Creating School Leadership: Categorization and identity work in interaction

Author(s) Nordzell, A.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2010  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell, Lifelong Learning and Active Citizenship  
Age group -  
Since the early 1990s, Swedish schools have been managed extensively in and through teams of various kinds, where talk and conversation is highly significant for school leaders’ practice. Even though so much of school management is now organized in various group constellations, Swedish research on school leadership has paid little attention to the talk that occurs in the context. In this study an interactional perspective on school leaders’ conversation is used. The aim is to show how school organization, school leadership and school leader identities are produced, formulated and transformed in talk-in-interaction and to show methods members use to build their concepts and categories, making them socially acceptable in situ. The empirical material consists of selected sequences of recorded talk in regular school leadership team meetings. I show how categorization work produces, formulates and transforms ascriptions of the school organization. The analyzed meetings can generally be described as problem-oriented. The school leaders depict themselves first and foremost as different from others. This is accomplished by various means; reported speech, use of time, extreme case formulations, laughter, contrasts and use of different pronouns. Individual identities, and more team-oriented identities are created in the school leaders’ conversations. School leadership is not produced as a lone heroic effort, but rather as something created by the members in interaction, and constantly negotiated.

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