The making of an egalitarian elite: school ethos and the production of privilege
The British Journal of Sociology 2019, Volume 70, Issue 2
Research on privilege and education often focuses on institutions that are elite in a rather traditional way, for example schools that instruct the children of the upper classes according to a reproductive logic that reinforces existing inequalities. The present article addresses the fostering of advantage from the angle of a more ambiguous case. The Global College, a municipal Swedish upper secondary school specialized in environmental issues and global justice, offers an empirical prism for discussing the cultivation of elite identification through the formative potential of an egalitarian ethos. The relation between ethics and class is examined, not only in terms of how moral stands are classed, but also by investigating into the productive capacities of such orientation. Through extensive ethnographic fieldwork, the study unfolds how a possible tension between egalitarianism and elitism resolves into a productive relation whereby the students’ incarnation of ethico-political ideals becomes a means for developing agency, confidence, entrepreneurial skills and an overall sense of ease.