Because such work as Bernstein's adopts an approach which can be broadly called ‘structuralist’ (as defined in Chapter 2), it holds out the hope of new and original insights into the problematic connections between structure and action. For this reason some commentators have seen Bernstein as a ‘harbinger of a new synthesis’ between the ‘normative’ and the ‘interpretive’ sociologies of schooling (Karabel and Halsey, 1977, pp. 62–71). On the other hand critics of his work such as King (1983, p. 54) see in Bernstein's extensive writings both tautology and contradiction and deplore its lack of empirical reference. This chapter, in taking a generally sympathetic approach to this often difficult theorist, rather than being a general critique, will focus on the organisational aspects of this theory. First a comparison will be made between the so-called ‘structuralist’ approaches and the other three approaches discussed so far. Why are these ‘structuralist’ approaches distinctive and what contribution can we expect them to make to the problems of school organisation? Bernstein's sociology of the school will be then discussed in terms of major themes developed so far: the nature of bureaucratic control, the pattern of autonomy in the open classroom and the place of ritual in the normative order of the school. This will be followed by a discussion of some of the empirical attempts that have been made to test Bernstein's work and his theory will itself be assessed in the light of some recent critiques. We will then briefly consider the implications of another ‘structuralist’ writer, Foucault, for understanding school organisation and then draw some points of comparison between his insights into ‘disciplinary’ organisation and Bernstein's theory of codes.