The Clinical Role of the Educational Sociologist in the School
The Journal of Educational Sociology
This paper attempts to outline and discuss the role of the educational sociologist, by re-examining the author's own ethnographic study on newcomer children in Japanese public schools. It also tries to understand the process of "clinical" studies, focusing on the relationship between the field and the academic realm of educational sociology. The "field" is primarily a research object for the researcher. However, ethnographic studies in general assume that the text needs to be checked by the
... checked by the informants on the field. The informants, i. e. the field members, have become the "audience" of the research in this process . For the researcher, obtaining an audience on the field may indicate that the research is soon to end. However, for the audiences, it is the time to begin new practice. At this stage, the researcher needs to make the difficult decision of whether to leave the field or not. In this case, the author chose to remain in the field and took the role of "reburying" the research results as an educational sociologist. As a consequence of this entire process, the study contributed to changing practice in the field, and newcomer children have come to be supported as "having special needs." As practice in the field begins to change, the researcher comes to feel that the real end of the research is arriving. For the second time, the researcher faces the question of whether to leave the field or not. In this case, the author shifted her focus to the relationship between newcomer children and school achievement, which has been a pending issue in the field. This research led to the author's taking on the new role of offering research results as a resource for practice, and consequently to feel the need to research the problem as an educational sociologist. In other words, there is a need to introduce to the field the research results that have been accumulated in the realm of educational sociology. From her experiences obtained from the ethnographic study, the author concludes that the significance of "clinical" studies is to address a different aspect of the issue. Field members and educational sociologists need to collaborate to make the best use of research findings for that purpose.