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Normalcy and Deviance: The Production of Schools and Their Subjects

Anita Sanyal Tudela

Chapter 6 Ethnography and Education Policy. A Critical Analysis of Normalcy and Difference in Schools

Abstract This chapter aims at describing the ways everyday discourses of the school produce normal and deviant subjectivities, and how these contribute to the continued production of the school itself. I draw from the ethnographic studies to make descriptions of an all-girls school and a mostly boys school, and pay special attention to the ways gender and sexuality discourses predominate definitions of who students are in each and stabilize subjectivities that continue to work to produce institutional identity of the school. This chapter responds to two principal questions: How is the normal produced within specific school contexts, and how does it frame the production of identities of students and teachers?  How does the specific structure of normalcy contribute to the construction of the individual school? In the analysis that follows, I emphasize the ways in which normal and its deviants are ordered. I argue that these orders serve a productive function in that they permit the sustenance of the school and its mission. The identities ascribed to types of students, especially in terms of gender and sexuality help a constant mechanism of production of the school through locally and institutionally meaningful processes.