ABSTRACT

Willard Waller began his Sociology of Teaching with the assertion that what is most important in understanding the 'concrete realities' of schools is the 'web' of sodal relationships amongst those who inhabit them. He set out to tell 'what every teacher knows, that the world of the school is a sodal world. Those human beings who live together in the school, though deeply severed in one sense, nevertheless spin a tangled web of interrelationships; that web and the people in it make up the sodal world ofthe school' (preface, p. 1). But while teachers in this study conftrm the importance of sodal interactions, both in constructing their own sense of professional identity and in influencing what they do while in the 'deeply severed' confmes of their classrooms, their sense of the 'tangled web of interrelationships' and the boundaries oftheir sodal worlds differs sharply from that which Waller detailed sixty years ago. For, as Yancy Dean puts it, and as so many of the teachers in this study attest, the sodal world of the school has expanded to such a degree that it has fmally contracted, or splintered, to where the department rather than the school effectively marks the bounds of 'major interactions' for most teachers.