Symbols, artifacts, rituals, and ceremonies: Archtypes of community in a selected private high school
This study investigated symbols, artifacts, rituals and ceremonies used in a selected private high school, and explored what valuable messages they carried and in what ways they function to strengthen a sense of community in the school. Three questions guided the study: What symbols, artifacts, rituals, and ceremonies are perceived by teachers, students, administrators, and parents as building community in the school? How do teachers, students, administrators, and parents perceive these symbols, artifacts, rituals, and ceremonies functioning to create community? Which symbols, artifacts, rituals, and ceremonies do teachers, students, administrators, and parents perceive to be the most effective for building community in the school? To address these exploratory questions, I used an interpretive case study approach. An inherent advantage of this approach was flexibility of interaction between data collection and data analysis. This entailed examining a specific phenomenon within its context . Contextual analysis was critical. Multiple data collection procedures--Observations, focus groups, interviews, and a study of documents--were used to ensure access to a wide range of data and to assist in triangulation. Interview and focus group discussions were audio taped and transcribed. Data Analysis was an ongoing and constant process, but intensive analysis was done at post-field work period. I engaged in a constant and simultaneous collection, comparison, and processing of data to discover the relationship between one social phenomenon and another. This constant comparison method was a means for deriving grounded theory. The method was inductive, generative, and constructive. My goal was to develop emic accounts from each informant and to develop a cross-case analysis that focuses on both similarities and differences across key domains or themes. The study found a match between school mission and goals and the symbols, artifacts, rituals, and ceremonies used in the school. The messages conveyed by those symbolic expressions reflected those goals and mission. Symbols and rituals would be most effective when those creating them are conscious of the values and the messages they want to communicate. Those envisioning a school as a community must critically consider the actual values operative in each school context, how these values are manifested in the school's organizational structure, and the consequences that will emerge as a result.
This paper has been withdrawn.