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Displaying power, contesting authority. Preparatoria students in Guadalajara
Streissler, Anna (University of Vienna. Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology)

Data: 2007
Resum: Este texto se presentó como comunicación al II Congreso Internacional de Etnografía y Educación: Migraciones y Ciudadanías. Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, 5-8 Septiembre 2008.
Resum: This paper deals with students’ political culture in two preparatory schools in Guadalajara, Mexico where I carried out fieldwork in the year 2000. I focus on the precarious relationship between students and teachers and forms of contesting authority and displaying power that I observed among students in one school. In North American or Western European public schools as well as in public Mexican secondary schools the power relations between students and teachers and between the students and the administration are generally reported to be fixed, in the sense of the students being the weak party and the others powerful, despite attempts of resistance to this authoritarian structure by students (Willis 1975, 1981). Although this is seldom spelled out, this power difference is seen to result from a confluence of (assumed) differences in age, knowledge and structural positions in the school as organisation. As Eckert argued for high schools in the U. S. A. , ―ultimate power in the hierarchy resides with the staff, who control the basic resources—materials, space, time, freedom of movement, and sponsorship—necessary to produce all activities and to achieve visibility‖ (Eckert 1989: 111). Sketching the organisation of preparatorias, I will show that the staff have much less control over the resources in this type of school, thus being in a structurally weaker position from the outset. Partly due to the heterogeneous student body, students have considerable leeway in negotiating their individual interests as well as their interests as a group. During my fieldwork, students and teachers were engaged in a tug of war, in yielding and wielding power (Villarreal 1994) which was at times more salient than at others. I will illustrate this with two examples of students displaying power and contesting authority, one of leaving lessons, which concern the large majority of students, the second of the occupation of school as a contestation of authority made public, concerning only a handful of student activists. In both examples it became evident that students used multiple ways of displaying power and contesting authority different to forms of resistance in European or American schools. These displays of power formed a vital part of the ―hidden curriculum‖ (Streissler 2005) and are best described by Foucault’s notion of power, namely that it is ubiquitous, is produced and reproduced through constant social interaction, can be negotiated and contested. This cultural knowledge is vital for students’ life in Mexican society at large.
Drets: Aquest document està subjecte a una llicència d'ús Creative Commons. Es permet la reproducció total o parcial i la comunicació pública de l'obra, sempre que no sigui amb finalitats comercials, i sempre que es reconegui l'autoria de l'obra original. No es permet la creació d'obres derivades. Creative Commons
Llengua: Anglès
Document: article ; recerca ; publishedVersion
Matèria: Relacions estudiant-professor ; Poder ; Curriculum amagat ; Student-teacher relations ; Power ; "Hidden curriculum"
Publicat a: EMIGRA working papers, Núm. 39 (2007) , p. 1-15, ISSN 2013-3804

15 p, 193.2 KB

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