ABSTRACT

A consideration of the politics of change is an appropriate starting point for a micro-politics of the school on at least two grounds. First, as Lacey (1977) indicates, change or the possibility of change brings to the suface those subterranean conflicts and differences which are otherwise glossed over or obscured in the daily routines of school life. Second, Baldridge, already quoted, sees change as being of central importance in a conflict perspective. However, his logic runs in a different direction. He sees change as an inevitable consequence

of conflict within a social system: 'The study of change is a central feature of the conflict approach, for change is to be expected if the social system is fragmented by divergent values and conflicting interest groups' (1971, p. 14). Silverman makes a similar point, but takes a broader view: 'A situation may . . . be usefully examined from the vantage point of "competing systems of interpretation"' (1970, p. 138), and this will provide important clues as to how it arose, why it continues in its present form and what circumstances will make it change. Thus it follows that an exploration of change should tell us something about the sources and processes of micropolitical conflict within the school and could also help us to isolate the factors that lead some schools to moments of change while others stay the same. Change within institutions may be seen as a pre-eminently political process inasmuch as it reveals what Duverger calls the two faces of power:

The notion that politics is both a conflict between individuals and groups for the acquisition of power, which the victors use to their advantage at the expense of the vanquished, and an attempt to establish a social order beneficial to all. (1972, p. 19)

While innovation (or change) is the substantive concern of this chapter, and the one which follows, the exploration of innovation processes also provides a vechicle for identifying the major protagonists in the micro-politics of the school.