The use of structuration theory to conceptualize alternative practice in education: the case of private school outreach in India

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This paper contributes to arguments for the potential of Giddens’ structuration theory in educational research. It illustrates how ‘conceptual schemes’ from structuration theory were applied to the author’s empirical research on a type of alternative educational practice in India, ‘private school outreach’. It shows how Giddens’ concepts of ‘social system’, ‘structure’ and ‘agency’ helped to conceptualize private school outreach, and how ‘constraint’ and ‘ontological security’ offered explanations of apparent contradictions in private school outreach practice within the context of the reasons and motivations of actors. It also argues that when schools attempt to do things differently, contradictions may occur because the same ‘rules and resources’ that are drawn on in the production of alternative practice are drawn on in the reproduction of practice. Finally, acknowledging the debates around structuration theory, some of its key criticisms are addressed in relation to the empirical application.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-351
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2010