The identities and practices of school administrative clerks in selected schools in the Western Cape

Bayat, Abdullah (2014-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: School administrative clerks are a category of educational worker that is normally overlooked by those doing research on schools. These workers are also ubiquitously underappreciated in school discourses. There is a lack of research on the identities and practices of administrative clerks which is the specific focus of this thesis. This thesis aims to address this knowledge gap in the literature. Therefore the research questions addressed in this thesis were: (1) how are school administrative clerks’ identities and practices constituted? (2) what are school administrative clerks contributions to the functioning of schools? The research questions were answered by conducting a qualitative study that involved interviewing and observing three purposively chosen school administrative clerks as well as conducting document analysis of policy documents. The analysis of the data was written up in four articles, each employing theoretical frameworks apposite for the analysis that it pursued. The articles variously addressed the way in which school administrative clerks’ identities and practices are negotiated. They provided insight into their professional contributions in their worksites. This is a thesis by articles. It consists of six chapters. The introductory wraparound chapter is followed by four articles, which constitute the four middle chapters of the thesis. These four academic articles have been published in, or submitted for publication to, different journals. Chapter six is the conclusion chapter. The insights gained from the four articles were that the administrative clerks’ identities and practices were constituted by their exercise of agency. They enacted what I regarded as a form of ‘subordinated agency’. The first article suggests that their reflexive agency resulted in spatial practices that made a contribution to their schools’ management and teaching practices. The second article suggests that administrative clerks’ rhetorical agency was established through their careful and tactful negotiation of rhetorical spaces in order to exercise their voice. They accomplished this through their resistance to the rhetorical norms of the school. The third article argues that they enacted an ethical agency which was instantiated through their quest for self-transformation which led to professional practices that had considerable positive consequences for the school. The fourth article posits that their accumulation of information and relational resources translated into a form of participatory capital that laid the foundation for their agency. It is through the deployment of their participatory capital that they exercised their agency to fashion unique professional identities. The conclusion of the thesis is that agency plays a significant role in the way that school administrative clerks’ identities, practices and their contribution to their school spaces are instantiated. School administrative clerks’ identities and practices are constituted by the subordinated agency that they are able to marshal within the professional spaces of their work environments. It is this subordinated agency that propels the administrative clerks’ daily creative boundary crossings between their school management practices on the one hand and their broader educational practices on the other hand. The study thus presents an analysis of their incisive professional contribution in spite of their putative subordinated status.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Skool administratiewe klerke is 'n groep opvoedkundige werkers wat normaalweg oor die hoof gesien word wanneer navorsing in skole gedoen word. Hierdie groep word ook duidelik onder verteenwoordig in diskoerse oor skole. Daar is 'n gebrek aan navorsing oor die identiteite en praktyke van administratiewe klerke. Laasgenoemde is die spesifieke fokus van hierdie tesis. Hierdie tesis poog om hierdie leemte in die literatuur aan te spreek deur die volgende navorsingsvrae aan te spreek: (1) hoe word skool administratiewe klerke se identiteit en praktyke gekonstrueer? (2) wat is die skool administratiewe klerke se bydrae tot die funksionering van skole? ’n Kwalitatiewe studie is gebruik om die navorsingsprobleem aan te spreek. Dit het die vorm van dokumente analise sowel as onderhoude en waarnemings van drie administratiewe klerke aangeneem. Elk van hierdie artikels spreek die skool se administratiewe klerk se identiteit en praktyke aan deur van ’n verskillende teoretiese raamwerk gebruik te maak. Hierdeur is insig verkry in hul professionele bydrae in hul onderskeie werksomgewings. Hierdie is 'n tesis deur artikel publikasie, wat uit ses hoofstukke bestaan. Die inleidende hoofstuk word gevolg deur vier hoofstukke, elk in die vorm van ’n artikel. Hierdie vier akademiese artikels is reeds gepubliseer of voorgelê vir publikasie in verskillende joernale. Die gevolgtrekking word in hoofstuk ses aangebied. Die vier artikels het na vore gebring dat skole se administratiewe klerke se identiteite en praktyke gekonstitueer word deur die uitoefening van hulle agentuur. Daar is bevind dat hulle ’n ondergeskikte agentuur uitoefen. Die eerste artikel benadruk dat hul agentuur die resultaat is van hulle refleksiewe ruimtelike praktyke. Die tweede artikel benadruk dat administratiewe klerke se retoriese agentuur voorgebring word deur hulle retoriese ruimtes, waarin hulle hulself laat geld deur versigtige en taktvolle optrede. Laasgenoemde word vermag deur hul dialektiese weerstand teen ruimtelike norme. Die derde artikel suggereer dat administratiewe klerke 'n etiese agentuur verkry deur hulle soeke na self-transformasie. Ek wil aanvoer dat laasgenoemde aanleiding gee tot professionele praktyke wat ‘n beduidende positiewe uitwerking op die skool het. Die vierde artikel dui daarop dat hul versameling van inligting en beskikbare bronne die grondslag lê vir hul agentskap. Dit is deur middel van die ontplooiing van hul deelnemende kapitaal dat administratiewe klerke by skole hulle agentskap so uitoefen dat dit meewerk in die vorming van hul unieke professionele identiteite. Die gevolgtrekking van hierdie proefskrif is dat agentskap 'n beduidende rol speel in die wyse waarop die identiteite en praktyke van ondergeskiktes soos administratiewe klerke in skoolruimtes gevorm word. Skool administratiewe klerke se identiteit en praktyke word gekonstitueer deur die ondergeskikte agentskap wat hulle in die professionele ruimte van hulle werksomgewing versamel. Dit is hierdie ondergeskikte agentskap wat dit vir die administratiewe klerke moontlik maak om daagliks die grense tussen skool bestuurspraktyke aan die een kant en hulle breër opvoedkundige praktyke aan die ander kant te oorbrug. Hierdie tesis bied 'n analise van die waardevolle professionele bydrae van skool administratiewe klerke, ten spyte van hulle ondergeskikte status.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86305
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