Research exists on the power relationships experienced by teachers in public schools as they interact with each other and with the principal. However, no such studies had been done in non-public schools. What takes place in Catholic schools should be examined because of the significant role these schools have played in the American educational system. The purpose of this qualitative study was to discover how teachers describe their experiences of power relationships as they talked about school-related issues in two Catholic secondary schools for girls. Research methods included semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and informal conversations. Data were analyzed according to Nyberg’s (1981b) four forms of power theory (force, exchange and bargaining, rhetoric, trust and mutual commitment). The findings suggest that in Catholic schools, securing commitment to the mission through the use of rhetoric is important, perhaps essential. In girls’ schools, the trust and mutual commitment form of power is present where there is a traditional, hierarchical organizational structure. The exchange and bargaining power form is common among teachers and with the principal in both settings. Insights gained from this study are intended to promote understanding of the personal and social dynamics which support positive power relationships, lead to greater involvement of teachers in substantive decision making, and ultimately benefit students.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.