Reproduction, Resistance and Transformation at Maranatha High School

Awarding Institution

Deakin University

Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The focus of this thesis is the attempt by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to reproduce SDA culture in students attending one of its schools, Maranatha High School. As a 'critical ethnography', it adopts a theoretical perspective from critical social theory to examine problems associated with this attempt. These problems are reflected in data gathered by a range of ethnographic techniques. The study first portrays the socio-political dynamics underlying the historical creation of Adventist culture generally, its embodiment in institutional forms, and the development of a substantial educational structure intended to transmit that culture to succeeding generations.

The study then focuses on current SDA educational philosophy, and the assumptions underlying the principles of selection, organisation, transmission and evaluation of knowledge considered to be valid. It then examines how Maranatha High School itself seeks to implement those principles. In this context, the study also reflects on the political implications of the modes of management and institutional control adopted at various levels of the organisation and in the school.

As a dialectical study, the thesis views the school as a social setting in which knowledgeable humans engage in communicative interaction. Rather than promoting smooth reproduction, the school is portrayed as a site of struggle, negotiation and potential transformation as participants resist forces that they perceive to be constraining and oppressing them. Consequently the thesis examines the perceptions of the various groups of participants, and the nature and impact of their interaction. In as much as teachers are official 'managers' of SDA culture and knowledge, this examination focuses especially on their personal definitions of the situation, the dilemmas that confront them from internal and external sources, the development of their own cultural forms in response, and the implications this action has for cultural reproduction and continuity.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Thesis. Deakin University.

Staff and students of Avondale College may access a print copy of this thesis from Avondale College Library (306.668433 R81)