ABSTRACT

The business of the sociologist is to explore the systematic social relationships on which this artificial contrivance [curriculum] depends. He will examine subjects both within the school and the nation at large as social systems sustained by communication networks, material endowments and ideologies. Within a school and within a wider society subjects are communities of people, competing and collaborating with one another, defming and defending their boundaries, demanding allegiance from their members and conferring a sense of identity upon them. (Musgrove, 1968)

The department is split, Physical Science and Biology. It's split heavily. The Physical Science courses are taught in [an undesirable location] ... Our department is seniority based. And Biology based. Based on those two things. If you're a Biology teacher, and you have seniority, then you're going to be here [in the best classrooms]. Believe me. I've complained a lot ... It's just the way the department makes the decisions ... That's just from my perspective. My department head would shoot me if he knew I was talking like this. (Science teacher)

The realms of academic departments create boundary lines which constrain high school communications, and social worlds which can sustain subject-colleagues within their small groups, but they are also micro-political arenas where critical 'material endowments' of funding, time, and space are 'defended' and distributed. The material resources and conditions which can affect teachers' work have been recently examined as important influences on teachers' attitudes and practice, but in the US su~h analyses, even where they look closely at teachers' workplace conditions, are constrained by relying on the school as the

sole unit ofanalysis (i.e., Goodlad, 1984;Johnson, 1990b; Reyes, 1990; Rosenholz, 1989).