Schools and communities: Ecological and institutional dimensions

Richard Arum

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Research on the relationship between schools and communities has reemerged as aprincipal focus of the sociology of education. Current research, however, rejects earlier conceptualizations of school communities as being organized locally and identifiable by reference to demographic and neighborhood characteristics. Neoinstitutional research on schools has focused examination instead on school communities defined as organizational fields. From this perspective, state regulation, professional associations, and market competition are institutional forces that combine with local neighborhood characteristics to shape school-level practices. The historical development of this theoretical approach is first discussed; current research on neighborhood effects is then critiqued for ignoring how schools vary in response to institutional environments; finally, examples of the utility of a broader institutional conceptualization of community are suggested in five current areas of educational research: racial segregation, resource inequality, curriculum variation, school-to-work transitions, and school discipline.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)395-418
    Number of pages24
    JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
    StatePublished - 2000


    • Educational resources
    • Neighborhood effects
    • Racial segregation
    • School discipline
    • School-to-work transitions

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


    Dive into the research topics of 'Schools and communities: Ecological and institutional dimensions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this