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Total Karlberg: An empirical attempt to test the scope of Erving Goffmans concept of total institutions in a study of the Swedish Royal War Academy in the 19th century
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education. (Uppsala Studies of History and Education (SHED))ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6803-4010
2012 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Erving Goffman’s concept of total institution is often used to describe the special circumstances under which people live within confide establishments that are thoroughly regulated. In my opinion this concept is often used in a routine way when describing such establishments, but is not always implemented to its full potential. By failing to do so one not only misses out on important findings, but also runs the risk of attributing aspects of the concept that are not intended. The concept is every so often used to describe the situation within boarding schools; even due the concept was primarily developed on experiences from mental hospitals. The purpose of this essay is to investigate to what extent total institutions can be used to describe social situations at boarding schools. This is done by an empirical study of the life within the cadet corps at the Swedish Royal War Academy in the 19th century. The main objective with this study is to test the scope of the concept when dealing with historical studies of school environments. Despite the fact that many of the features of the total institutions that are highlighted by Goffman also can be found in a 19th century cadet academy, there are some important differences. One of the more important results is that the life of an inmate in boarding schools seems to differ quit a lot from the way the life of the inmate is portrayed by Goffman. This is especially true for older pupils that often gain power as well as a certain amount of autonomy within the institution.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-286741OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-286741DiVA: diva2:921960
Femte nordiska utbildningshistoriska konferensen i Umeå 26-28 september 2012
Available from: 2016-04-21 Created: 2016-04-21 Last updated: 2016-04-22

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Larsson, Esbjörn
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Department of Education

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