Micropolitics in School Leadership
- Jane Clark LindleJane Clark LindleClemson University College of Education
The concept of micropolitics in schooling originated in the latter part of the 20th century and contrasted macropolitical analyses of central ministries’ directives, primarily in English-speaking education systems, with more localized forms of governance, as in the United States. Either form of educational governance envelops daily interactions among governmental agencies, school personnel, and stakeholders. As political scientists long have studied macropolitics, sociologists and educationists focused on micropolitics found in schools’ short- and long-term decisions. Typical decisions, which generate micropolitics, include how schools carry on teaching and learning and range from formalized policy implementation to negotiations over scarce resources as big as allocation of teacher–pupil ratios and as momentary and small as distribution of paper and pencils. Given its local focus, scholars of micropolitics assume that the conditions of schooling generate and sustain persistent conflict, and thus they study how such conflict surfaces, who participates, who wins or loses, and what roles school leaders play. Conflicts surround schools’ internal and external communities’ power structures. The power players, groups and individuals, contest the purposes of schooling and work to influence their agenda. These influential moves may reshape macro-policies and directives, making policy implementation a localized project. Internal and external constituencies struggle over resource allocation, frequently under conditions of scarcity, which provides an arena for investigating decision participation. As with studies in macropolitics, the methods vary with the research questions. Because of the high-engagement dynamics in the study of micropolitics in schools, discursive methods that focus on communications, relationships, and media dominate these studies.