Selected Papers

Schools operate in complex environments and are frequently confronted with seemingly contradictory institutional demands. Many reform efforts may reflect endogenous rather than exogenous efforts to reduce institutional complexity and change the relationship between already present school logics. Teachers often experience and attempt to alter such complexity, not in abstract ways associated with institution building, but during attempts to solve real-world problems. Using a case study of the adoption of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) among teachers at a large urban school in the Northeast, I present a three-stage model for how they navigate school reform in an institutionally complex setting. Findings suggest that: 1) practices and structures are introduced to alter the school’s institutional order; 2) teachers experience tensions in getting their work done as they enact these new practices and structures; and, 3) they reconcile these tensions by realigning logics in ways that allow them to accomplish work tasks, but also largely recreate the existing order. These results illuminate some of the challenges teachers face navigating institutional structures as they strive to educate and empower students. 

Re‐enchantment of School Bureaucracy: The Historical Relationship Between Rationality and Romanticism“Disenchantment” has been a popular trope in the social sciences since Max Weber's appropriation of the term nearly a century ago. In recent years, however, scholars have come to argue that, in contrast to the standard modernization story of unabated rationalization, organizations have long been subject to countervailing forces. In this essay, David Diehl uses modern reinterpretations of the “disenchantment” thesis to suggest that the structure of contemporary schooling is the product of ongoing cultural efforts to re‐enchant public life by infusing rational bureaucracy with Romantic impulses in order to combat alienation and social fragmentation. Moreover, Diehl argues that the changing relationship between rationality and Romanticism has taken a unique form in the contemporary period and that recognizing this helps us to better understand the paradoxical modern push for schools to achieve seemingly incompatible goals such as diversity and standardization, community and accountability, and creativity and efficiency.

Toward a Historical Sociology of Situations
In recent years there has been a growing call to historicize sociology by paying more attention to the contextual importance of time and place as well as to issues of process and contingency. Meeting this goal requires bringing historical sociology and interactionism into greater conversation via a historical theory of social situations. Toward this end, the authors of this article draw on Erving Goffman's work in Frame Analysis to conceptualize experience in social situations as grounded in multilayered cognitive frames and to demonstrate how such a framework helps illuminate historical changes in situated interaction.

Classroom Ordering and the Situational Imperatives of Routine and Ritual
This article contends that the problem of classroom order rests less in the roles and compositions of classrooms than in the multidimensional nature of their social situations. Classroom order arises from the dynamic relationship between distinct situational requirements: the coordination of interaction into institutionalized patterns (routine) and the validation of participants’ identities (ritual). Utilizing a unique data set of more than 800,000 turns of talk from 601 high school classrooms, the authors develop metrics for measuring the longitudinal accomplishment of routine (interactional stability) and ritual (interactional concord) and present two sets of analyses. The first analyses identify the antecedents to stability and concord, and the second examine how stability and concord shape the experiences and attitudes of classroom participants. Results indicate that activities and discourse combine to fulfill the requirements of ritual and routine in different ways, often meeting one at the expense of the other, and that the accomplishment of stability and concord has positive returns to classroom experiences, but in different ways for teachers and students.

Methodological Transactionalism and the Sociology of Education
The development and spread of research methods in sociology can be understood as a story about the increasing sophistication of tools in order to better answer fundamental disciplinary questions. In this chapter, we argue that recent developments, related to both increased computing power and data collection ability along with broader cultural shifts emphasizing interdependencies, have positioned Social Network Analysis (SNA) as a powerful tool for empirically studying the dynamic and processual view of schooling that is at the heart of educational theory. More specifically, we explore how SNA can help us both better understand as well as reconceptualize two central topics in the sociology of education: classroom interaction and status attainment. We conclude with a brief discussion about possible future directions network analysis may take in educational research, positing that it will become an increasingly valuable research approach because our ability to collect streaming behavioral and transactional data is growing rapidly.

Network Ecology and Adolescent Social Structure
Adolescent societies – whether arising in weak, short-term classroom friendships or close, long-term friendships – exhibit various levels of network clustering, segregation and hierarchy. Some are rank-ordered caste systems and others are flat, cliquish worlds. Explaining the source of such structural variation remains a challenge, however, because global network features are generally treated as the agglomeration of micro-level tie formation mechanisms, namely balance, homophily, and dominance. How is it, then, that the same micro-mechanisms generate significant variation in global network structures?  To answer this question we propose and test a network ecological theory that specifies the ways that features of organizational environments moderate the expression of tie formation processes, thereby generating variability in global network structures across settings. We develop this argument using longitudinal friendship data on schools (Add Health study) and classrooms (Classroom Engagement study), and by extending exponential random graph models to the study of multiple societies over time.