The Management of Diversity in Schoolscapes: An analysis of Hungarian practices

Tamás Péter Szabó

ethnography, education, Hungarian language, Language ideologies


The material environment of formal education (i.e., schoolscape) is determined not only by laws and local regulations, but by the visual practices of the given institution as well. Inscriptions and cultural symbols placed on the façade and the walls of the school building are tools for orienting the choice between various cultural and linguistic values and ideologies (Johnson 1980; Brown 2012). Based on photographs and research interviews collected in Budapest, I analyse both the material environments of four schools and the metadiscourses through which such spaces are interpreted and regulated. Investigation took place in both mainstream state schools as well as in private schools with alternative curriculum. In the analysis, I make use of the teachers’ accounts on the scenes investigated. I present how teachers describe the linguistic landscape, and through these statements, some policies of their schools. Incorporating both emic and etic perspectives, I present differences between two types of organizational culture, comparing state and private schools. I conclude that the schoolscape of state schools can be interpreted in line with Johnson’s (1980: 173) findings concerning “the symbolic integration of local schools and national culture”, while the private schools seemed to construct schoolscapes which foreground students' agency, and attract a special target group of parents.

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