Assured optimism in a Scottish girls' school: Habitus and the (re)production of global privilege

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This paper examines how high levels of social–cultural connectedness and academic excellence, inflected by gender and social class, constitute a particular school habitus of ‘assured optimism’ at an elite Scottish girls’ school. In Bourdieuian terms, Dalrymple is a ‘forcing ground’ for the ‘intense cultivation’ of a particular privileging habitus. The paper analyses the ‘institutional’ habitus of this particular private girls’ school, drawing on headteacher interviews and student survey and focus group data, and relevant documents. The school is currently re-positioning itself to educate girls for global professional futures through the production of a desired habitus and certain spatio-temporalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-136
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • elite schooling
  • habitus
  • assured optimisim
  • multiple capitals
  • spatio-temporalities
  • soft practices


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