‘Guarding the Gate’: The hidden practices behind admission to an Elite Traditional International School in Japan

Tristan Bunnell, James Hatch

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This paper explores the admissions practices of an ‘Elite Traditional International School’ (ETIS) in a large city in Japan. The school is seeing falling enrolment from its traditional clients e.g.‘transnational capitalist class’ families working for Embassies and its alumnus, whilst attracting an emergent aspiring locally-based body of parents representative of a ‘global middle class’ likely seeking advantages, and a new, distinct identity. The resultant tension, between dealing with market-led change (reflecting the reality) and trying to maintain and protect legitimacy as an ideologically driven institution serving the privileged ‘international community’ (reflecting the vision), creates a platform (the nomos) for admission practices that are potentially biased and largely hidden. Utilising a methodology grounded in the work of Pierre Bourdieu we identify how the school adopts a number of ‘unwritten rules’, to ‘guard the gate’. Moreover, the imagined ‘international community’ emerges as a major field of power
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Publication statusAcceptance date - 12 Sep 2021

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