An analysis of the constitution of a school subject through recontextualizing : the case of the NAC drama syllabus (1994)

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

This study sets out to develop a framework for the analysis of a school subject and uses as a focal study the NAC drama syllabus developed in1994. Drawing in the main on Basil Bernstein's theory of curriculum, an analysis is made of how a syllabus is constituted through recontextualizing, using the theoretical concepts of voice and identity, classification and framing, and hierarchy. The discourses that have been recontextualized in the formation of the syllabus are identified. Two sets of discourses are identified: educational policy discourses (namely the discourses of progressivism, utilitarianism and reconstruction and development) and educational drama discourses. The specialization of voice in the syllabus marks out the academic identity, and is an indicator of educational drama discourses evident in the syllabus. The specialization of identity marks out projected social identities, indicating the recruitment of educational policy discourses in the constitution of the syllabus. The field in which the syllabus is constructed is also examined, which following Bernstein is defined as the recontextualizing field. The syllabus writers, located in this field, act selectively on the educational policy and educational drama discourses in constituting the syllabus. The rules for selection in the development of the syllabus are examined, and these are related to the syllabus writers' situation within the recontextualizing field. It is argued that the syllabus writers are positioned subordinately within the field, and that this factor to a large extent regulates the operation of educational policy discourses as rules for selection in the drawing up of the syllabus .