The aim of this study is to investigate discipline in German and Swedish classrooms and describe its cultural contexts. In countries with compulsory education, it must be assumed that not all students voluntarily attend classes. The mandatory presence of students combined with the ban on corporal punishment in schools means that classroom interaction has to be organized according to certain manners and rules which are understood here as discipline, meaning the organization and control of individuals and their actions over space and time. This study assumes similarities in the fundamental disciplinary mechanisms, although different contexts will create different concrete manifestations of the phenomenon.
Since the observation of cultural contexts is not as self-evident and direct as the observation of classroom interactions of teachers and students, the theoretical considerations here include a detailed discussion of methodology for observing culture. Starting with Alfred Schütz’ concept of ideal types and Niklas Luhmann’s theory on mass media, it is argued that culture can be observed through the products of mass media. The empirical data for this study therefore consists of classroom observations in Germany and Sweden as well as the examination of German and Swedish films and television series.
Comparing and combining the results from classroom and film/tv observations using the construction of different ideal types allowed conclusions to be made about correlations between disciplinary order and whether a teacher is considered “good” or “bad”. This review of the various types of order is the basis for the description of cultural contexts.
Keywords: classroom discipline, Sweden, Germany, film and television.
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