This chapter examines the (re)production of privilege at Marischal (a pseudonym), an elite school for the education of girls in Scotland. Of specific interest are the socio-material effects of relations in this school that enable particular possibilities for the individual agency of its girls. We uncover and explore the specific socio-material conditions of possibility that flow from schooling circumstances which create a particular set of physical–corporeal, social and intellectual school socio-spatial relations that are for most girls at Marischal underpinned by prior home conditions of economic and social surety (Forbes & Weiner, 2012, 2013b).
Here we question the (re)production of privilege in the orderings of school space (Soja, 1989; Lefebvre, 1991; Massey, 1994). Embracing the research of Maxwell and Aggleton (2013) into economic surety and agency and building on our previous Scottish Independent Schools Project (SISP) research studies (Forbes & Weiner, 2008, 2012, 2013a, 2013b; Horne et al., 2011; Lingard et al., 2012; Lingard, Mills & Weaver-Hightower, 2012), we operationalise schooling privilege as identifications with economic, physical, social, intellectual and socio-cultural surety in a specific school space. Such identifications, we argue, are designed to (re)produce physical–corporeal, social and intellectual surety, accomplishment and agency for students (Gordon, Holland & Lahelma, 2000; Forbes & Weiner, 2012). Thus, we characterise schooling privilege as attachment to positive conditions of possibility – a habitus of possibility underpinned by economic surety and dispositions towards assured social connectedness and inherent optimism. For the girls at Marischal, academic performance was central to this agency and particular habitus, but so too was the culture of the school, its ‘institutional habitus’ (Reay, 1998; Reay, David & Ball, 2001), which constituted them as active agents and protagonists in their schooling and their life after school.