Do Social Institutions Necessarily Suppress Individuals’ Need for Autonomy? The Possibility of Schools as Autonomy-Promoting Contexts Across the Globe

Johnmarshall Reeve, Avi Assor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Schools across the globe vary in how autonomy-promoting they are. Recognizing that some social institutions attain seemingly harmonious functioning by suppressing individuals’ autonomy, the first half of the chapter asks whether these hierarchical institutions necessarily need to be autonomy suppressive. The second half of the chapter illustrates how schools can function as autonomy-promoting cultural institutions, even when embedded within hierarchical societies that contrast social hierarchy against individual autonomy. To be truly autonomy-promoting, schools would be designed in ways that (a) allow students to shape important aspects of the school and support students attempts to form authentic, direction-giving values, goals, and interests and (b) offer frequently recurring opportunities for students to experience autonomy during learning activities. Numerous examples of these two key features of autonomy-promoting schools are offered. A final question asks how cross-culturally feasible autonomy-promoting schools are, and we conclude that they are quite feasible in egalitarian countries with autonomy-conductive social norms while they are unlikely cultural products in hierarchical countries with control-conducive social norms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Autonomy in Cross-Cultural Context: Perspectives on the Psychology of Agency, Freedom, and Well-Being
EditorsValery I. Chirkov, Richard M. Ryan, Kennon M. Sheldon
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Pages111-132
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)978-90-481-9667-8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

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