In what ways do primary and secondary schools act to internationalize their institutional ethos?

  • Daryl York

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This research into school identity studies school agency by focusing on how schools act to self-determine an aspirational international identity. Aspirational identity is conceptualized in Bourdieusian terms as intentional position-taking in the face of constraints, both external – field competition for capital resources – and internal - a subject’s habitus (which, for schools, necessitates critical evaluation of the putative notion of institutional habitus). Schools fundamentally distinct from many organizations in that a school’s identity subsumes a role in the determination of the identity of its students, may construe and pursue the realization of an element to their school identity that is international. Schools may do this by creating an international ethos, in order to internationalize student identity. In this study, to analyse ethos- and identity-internationalizing initiatives in a sufficiently broad, unifying manner, applicable to any type of school, use is made of Bernstein’s notion of the pedagogization of knowledge to inspire an analytical framework developed from the Pedagogic Device. Data from interviews with school leaders in 15 schools in 10 countries, showed ethos internationalizing initiatives to be divisible into three classes: firstly, initiatives pertaining to the medium by which knowledge is transmitted, particularly the language of instruction and the nationality mix of students and teachers; secondly, the knowledge transmitted to students may be deemed to be more or less international in content; thirdly, the knowledge to be transmitted may be prepared for transmission to students in ways that are more or less international by the process that Bernstein calls recontextualization. A potent means of internationalizing school identity and thus ethos was seen to be (international) recontextualization of knowledge by schools themselves, sometimes but not always in conjunction with an external agency. It was found that schools,irrespective of the composition by nationality of their student body, according tovarying degrees of agency they display to construe and pursue an internationalidentity for themselves and students, may be classified according to three ‘ideal types’: international identity creators; international identity assemblers; orinternational identity strengtheners. Some of the international identity strengtheners are shown to exhibit positive habitus to aspire to international identity as they stake more advantageous field positions by operating simultaneously in both national and transnational fields.
Date of Award14 Oct 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorHugh Lauder (Supervisor)


  • Aspirational School Identity
  • International Education

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