Normality and difference in education: relational encounters at school boundaries

Antonio García, Andres Haye, Claudia Matus, Verónica López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Substantialist ethnographic approaches have been questioned for situating studies into stable groups and places, thereby creating rigid categories of diversity. In this study, we approached school normality through a relational ethnography, where the focus is on fields rather than places, and boundaries rather than bounded groups. Extended fieldwork was done at two schools in Santiago de Chile, where we embarked on a flexible journey to follow daily school life. We analysed situational encounters between the ethnographer and school actors at the school boundary as relational fields. Findings show that the institutional schools’ structures and norms seen at the boundary define the terrain where the relation between schools and differences is revealed. In this context, normality takes the form of resistance, nostalgia, and risk, defining how differences within the student body are constructed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-180
Number of pages18
JournalEthnography and Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • School
  • boundaries
  • difference
  • normality
  • relational ethnographies


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