Towards a Sociological Analysis of Pedagogic Heritage Texts

Paul Dowling & Andrew Brown
Institute of Education
University of London

Presented at Media 98, Institute of Education, 22nd March 1998

This paper represents an initial attempt to extend the application of a language for the sociological analysis of pedagogic texts which was originally developed by Dowling (1998) to a wider range of institutions and, in doing so, to develop some elements of the language itself. This earlier work and the developments themselves draw on the work of Bernstein (1996) and also of Foucault (for example, 1970, 1977) and Bourdieu (1990). The tentative claim that is being made here is that the approach has potential value in respect of the analysis, development and evaluation of pedagogic and other texts across a wide range of contexts. Central to the approach being adopted here is that we identify the nature of the institutional activity with respect to which a given text or collection of texts is to be analysed. Failure to establish such a context-specific form of analysis effectively essentialises the analysed text and its analysis. The approach that we are adopting to the identification of institutional activity is sociological. By this we mean that we are concerned with the nature of relations between individuals and groups and it is this nature that constitutes the specificity of the activity.

We are understanding the term ‘pedagogy’ to mean those practices which concern the transmission and acquisition of privileged discourses, techniques, dispositions and comportments. An emphasis, here, is being placed on ‘privileged’. That is, the relationship between transmitter and acquirer is hierarchical in that the principles of evaluation of pedagogic content reside with the transmitter. In this respect, self-instruction and the exchange of strategies in informal educational, workplace or domestic contexts are being construed as qualitatively different from pedagogy (see Dowling (1998)). Interpreted in this way, pedagogy is clearly to be associated with a diversity of sites and is not being restricted to schooling. Furthermore, we expect all sites–including the school–to implicate a range of practices that extends beyond pedagogy. In particular, we expect to see a prevalence of market-oriented exchange practices. In this paper, we will present a preliminarly exploration of the relationships between pedagogic and exchange practices which are exhibited in texts associated with heritage and leisure. In particular, we focus on data collected on two visits to each of three castles in South East England in the summer and autumn of 1997.

Following earlier work (Dowling (op cit) and also Brown (1994), we are regarding each castle as a complex of texts of which our data constitute samples. The analysis proceeds via the generation of ideal types. These are categories which derive from observation, but which have been made conceptually coherent (see Max Weber, 1964). As Dowling has pointed out, concrete instances are likely to involve more than one ideal type. Thus the heritage texts are to be described as combinations of these types, generally with one tending to dominate.

We shall proceed by giving a brief introduction to each castle. Following this, we shall introduce our ideal-typical categories which will structure a more detailed (but still, at this stage, preliminary and speculative) analysis of the castles as heritage texts. Finally, we shall introduce a notation which identifies each of the castles and which also indexes particular points for consideration in follow-up work.

The castles

Mountfitchet Castle1 is a privately-owned, reconstruction of a Norman motte and bailey castle. It is built on an earth mound and comprises a wooden palisade which forms two adjacent enclosures, roughly circular in shape and each containing a number of thatched, wattle-and-daub buildings and other, mainly wooden, constructions. The outer bailey2, contains, amongst other things, a kitchen, a prison, a communal house, a church, a catapult, a gallows complete with hanging efigy, and also a carp pond. The inner bailey contains the grand hall, a falconry, candlemakers, alchemist, stables and a small area labelled as a ‘herb, vegetable garden and orchard’. Wax heads are spiked on bloody poles above the main gate and the various buildings contain life-size models of the various inhabitants of the castle. Some of these models have some very limited and jerky automated movement, such as the up-and-down chopping motion of the prison constable’s arm showing him cutting off the hand of a felon. Audiotape loops are situated in most of the buildings. The tapes play the voices of the models: ‘Welcome to my home ...’. In the majority of cases, the recorded voice is that of the same male actor speaking modern English with an East Anglian accent. The voice of the Baron affects something closer to current ‘received pronunciation’. Outside the castle is a siege tower and a section of stone wall which is fenced and labelled as the ‘remains of the twelfth century castle’. It should be noted, however, that Mountfitchet Castle is a reconstruction of an eleventh century settlement, circa 1086.

Entry to the castle is via a gift shop and cafeteria which is situated at the bottom of the mound. As well as entry tickets, the guide book, activity sheets for school students and teachers and a diversity of toys and mementos, the shop sells snack food for visitors (which they can eat at tables in the shop or outside at the foot of the mound) and packets of food with which visitors may feed the tame animals–deer, goats, chickens, etc–which roam around the castle grounds. Our second visit to Mountfitchet Castle took place during the school term. On this occasion, several school parties arrived during the time that we were there.

Headingham Castle is a Norman keep which was built around 1140 by Aubrey de Vere and is now owned, according to the guide book, by ‘the Hon. Thomas Lindsay, brother of the 29th Earl of Crawford and Balcarres’. The keep contains a cafeteria and souvenir shop, which occupies the whole of the entry level. Immediately outside of the entrance is an overgrown area labelled ‘dungeon’. A spiral staircase at the corner of the keep leads down to the granary which is now empty except for a power station and some electrical cabling. Leading up from the cafeteria, the staircase takes visitors to upper rooms, the floors of which have been boarded. The room on one floor contains a number of formica-covered refectory tables and plactic chairs. That on another floor contains a few items of antique armoury and some modern and some reproduction or antique furniture, some of which is draped with what looks like modern cloth. One of the items of furniture is a rough, circular wooden board with a fleur-de-lis at the centre. This table is divided into sectors, each bearing a scratched quality–CLEANLINESS, THRIFT, CHEERFULNESS, and so on. One of the sectors contains the legend: ‘IN HONOUR. CHIVALROUS IN DUTY VALOROUS IN ALL THINGS NOBLE TO THE HEART’S CORE CLEAN’. Around the table are a number of plastic-covered chairs of what looks to be 1950s design. The walls are hung with a number of tapestries and banners, the latter bearing actual or fictitious coats of arms. Some of the banners are headed with the name of a dignatory who is claimed to have had some connection with the castle. For example, ‘Benjamin Disraeli, m.p. (later prime minister) Feasted here in 1849’. The entry to one of the levels is draped with what appears to be a very tattered curtain. Plastic pipework, electrical wiring and plastic waste bins containing bin-liners are very prominently distributed around the castle.

The keep stands on a very substantial and well-kept lawn which is approached via an impressive Tudor bridge from the main grounds associated with the castle. As well as a private house (not open to the public), the grounds contain a lake, some woods and gardens with walk routes, a substantial picnic and barbecue area and a car park, a ‘tilting lawn’ and ‘archery butts’. The whole of these grounds appear to be very well maintained. Our first visit to Headingham castle was during the school summer holiday. At that time, the car park was quite full and there were a number of families picnicking and queueing at a children’s face-painting stall which had been set up on the lawn around the castle keep. The cafeteria was also quite full, although very few people were in any other part of the keep.

Bodiam castle is later than the other two which we visited, being built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge between 1385 and 1392. The castle was excavated by Lord Curzon in the first quarter of the twentieth century and left by him to the National Trust which is its present owner. The outer castle walls and towers are stone and are substantially intact, with some restoration having been performed in the main, it would appear, to prevent further deterioration and provide safe access to visitors. No decorations have been added, although floorboards and lighting have been added to one or two of the rooms. Two rooms are used to show videos. One of these concerns castle life including details of meals which would have been eaten. The other shows a man being dressed in a suit of armour and gives details of the various elements of the suit and of developments in warfare during the late fourteenth century. The video rooms are discreatly hidden away as are the ‘teaching rooms’ which contain items of weaponry and so forth and may be booked by school parties.

The castle stands in a substantial park containing a picnic area, car park and a tearoom and shop which are near the entrance to the park and some distance away from the castle. The castle itself is approached via a wooden bridge which crosses a substantial moat to a the remains of a barbican and another bridge to the castle gatehouse. The ticket, information and National Trust membership and first aid office and museum room are in a building situated some fifty yards outside the moat.

Inside the castle, visitor access is available to the castle well, the rooms and walls near the gatehouse and the postern and northwest towers. Visitors can also walk around the interior of the castle in the remains of the chapel, great hall, kitchens, and so forth. We arrived late in the day on both of our visits to Bodiam Castle and most of the visitors had left. During the school termtime visit, however, we were told that about 250 children had visited that day. On both occasions, the building was very noticeably spotlessly clean.

The ideal types

Our initial classification is in the form of two institutional modes which we shall refer to as the temple and the market, respectively. The temple is an institution which is concerned with the production and re-production–(re)production–of subjects via pedagogic texts. As we have indicated, such texts are concerned with the transmission of privileged discourses, techniques, dispositions and/or comportments whereby the principles of evaluation of the discourses, techniques, dispositions and/or comportments–the pedagogic content–resides with the transmitter. The relations of the temple are pedagogic relations and are hierarchical. Subjectivity, in our terms, is constituted as the acquisition and subsequent enactment of the privileged discourses, techniques, dispositions and/or comportments.

Transmitter and (ideal) acquirer are, themselves, constructs of the pedagogic texts, the transmitter being understood as the authorial voice of the text (see Dowling (op cit)). In addition to the authorial voice, pedagogic texts construct apprenticed and/or dependent voices. We can illustrate this by reference to the traditional notion of a temple as apprenticing (or attempting to apprentice) a priesthood which, ultimately, is given access to the generative principles of the practice. The temple also initiates (or attempts to initiate) a dependent congregation into a particular comportment in relation to the practice, but without access to its generative principles. Apprenticing and initiation are two principal strategic modes constituted in and by the pedagogic texts of the temple3.

The market is concerned with the production of commodities as objects, so that its relations are economic relations of exchange rather than transmission. Whether or not these relations are hierarchical (and the direction of the hierarchy) will depend upon the location of any given market institution within the broader system of production, exchange and consumption. Nevertheless, we would expect any market institution to deploy strategies (that is, to constitute texts) in establishing and potentially optimising its exchange opportunities. We propose two strategic modes.

The first mode is to be referred to as specialising. In this mode, the institution constitutes a referent identity in and by imposing more or less explicit principles of inclusion and exclusion on its commodity range. The archetype of this mode would be the specialist high street shop–the butcher, baker, grocer, and so forth. The second mode directly opposes the first and is to be referred to as fragmenting. In this mode, exchange opportunities are optimised via the potentially unlimited expansion of the commodity range. Here, the referent identity may be very weak or, at any rate, is displaced from the commodity range insofar as it appears to impose no selection principles, that is, these principles are invisible. The archetype for this mode is the car boot sale stall. It also characterises, for example, the large department store and, say, the building service provider who will turn their hand to bricklaying, plumbing, plastering, joinery, electrical wiring, and so on. The commodity range in these cases is constituted as an apparently unprincipled or weakly principled bricolage. Clearly, fragmenting may occur within a contextualising mode of specialising. This is the case with the do-it-all builder who, we might suppose, would be unlikely to take on a job involving making-up curtains. Similarly, specialising may occur within a contextualising mode of fragmenting. This would characterise the department store which displays a very wide range of very high quality goods, the claim to high quality constituting the specialising strategy.

The castles revisited: Mountfichet Castle

As we have indicated, ideal types are unlikely to occur in empirical instances in their pure forms. Thus, our intention is to resolve each of the three castles as combinations of the ideal types (institutions and strategic modes) which we have introduced. Thus, Mountfitchet is, we suggest, predominantly a market institution deploying predominantly specialising strategies. It has a secondary status as a temple deploying initiating strategies to the virtual exclusion of apprenticing. As a market institution, its texts establish its identity as a very special kind of commodity. The information leaflet announces it as ‘National Award Winning Mountfitchet Castle and Norman Village of 1066’ and includes an aerial view of the ‘site which has been occupied since the Iron Age’. The ‘Souvenir Edition’ of the guide book introduces the Mountfitchet on its cover as ‘The Castle Time Forgot’. The guide book includes a ‘Translation from the Domesday Book relating to Stanstead Mountfitchet Castle’. The audiotape in the church notes that there was a resident priest, ‘which means it was a very important castle’. Mountfitchet, then, has a long and prestigious pedigree and, as a commodified historical monument is clearly identified with what is arguably the most familiar date in English history, 1066.

‘Time forgot’ the castle, presumably in that the site had been covered by scrub and hawthorn bushes for some 200 years, according to the guide book. The substantive authorship of the castle–the private owners–are entirely invisible in the book. This elision is achieved via the use of the passive mood–‘The Castle re-construction started in the winter of 1984 ...’ and by affiliation to other authorities, thus:

MOUNTFITCHET CASTLE is a national Historic Monument Grade II and is, therefore, protected by the Department of the Environment; this means that when constructing new buildings, we are governed by strict rules and regulations.


In the re-construction, we followed the advice and guidance of two historical advisers–Dr. Frank Bottonley, author of “The Castle Explorer’s Guide” and Vice Principal of Trinity and All Saints College, Horsforth, Leeds and Mr. Harry Strongman, formerly Head of Division of Teaching Studies, Bullmarsh College of Higher Education, Reading.’

(Guide Book, p. 8)

The ‘we’ in these two paragraphs is not identified in the text. The misspelling of Bulmershe College is simply indicative of the commodification of the products of the temple of higher education by this market institution. It is also worth noting that both Trinity and All Saints and Bulmershe Colleges are primarily teacher training colleges. This does not constitute the castle as a pedagogic institution. Rather, it identifies its principal market as school teachers and students.

The principal commodity offered by Mountfichet is an historical experience, the publicity leaflet invites visitors to:

Wander back in time over 900 years and experience what life was like in a Norman castle and village.


Marvel at the siege weapons including two giant catapults, take a trip to the top of the siege tower and tiptoe into the baron’s bedroom while he sleeps.

(publicity leaflet)

Again, the audiotape in the Grand Hall announces that ‘You have just walked back in time to the eleventh century’. Mountfichet Castle constitutes the recontextualisation in concrete form of the products of historical (and presumably pedagogic) practice as a service commodity. The purchase of this service simulates a rotation of the diachronic into the synchronic, transforming a displacement in time into one of place: you can walk from there to here, from the twentieth to the eleventh century4. The experience is facilitated by the populating of the castle with life-size models, some of whom address the visitor via audiotape loops.

The effectivity of the recontextualisation which is achieved in the commodifying process is, however, visible in a number of respects. For example, Mountfitchet Castle clearly foregrounds the sensational through the various displays of violence: heads on spikes, graphic images of corporal punishment in the form of the removal of a hand, suspension from chains in a pit or being caught–moaning and begging for assistance (‘help me, kind sir’)–in a man-trap, hanging from the gallows which are located in the centre of the village, and the provision of various forms of stocks for visitors to try out. Also, the mode of address which is apparent in the audiotapes also displaces the authorial voice into alignment with the objectified voices of the historical characters whom are represented. However, this is achieved within the context of a realisation of the castle narrative or by constructing a voyeuristic audience. Thus the Baron (who is simultaneously holding court in the great hall and asleep in his chamber) announces that ‘one of my descendants is destined to become famous’ and an inhabitant of the communal house states with a somewhat histrionic emphasis, ‘We only bath once a month, in winter, we don’t bath at all’. The point being that in the period being represented, such statements could not (in the first example) or would not (in the second) be made. Class differentiation is achieved, in part, via the projection of contemporary differences in pronunciation. The bowl of one of the catapults is quite visibly connected to its arm by a modern cross-head screw.

An additional feature of the experience provided by Mountfitchet Castle is its stock of animals:

MOUNTFITCHET CASTLE prides itself on the freedom and happiness of all its animals, many of which have come here from less happy backgrounds; some of the chickens are rescued from battery farms, the goats are either unwanted or outgrown pets and the deer are either road accident victims or orphans. We are often approached to adopt injured baby fallow deer, which we give the necessary veterinary care and then integrate them into the herd.

(Guide book, p. 19)

This appears to be an instance of a fragmenting of the market offer in the constitution of an additional specialisation, that is, through an implicit affiliation to an animal welfare identity5. The animals also constitute a service commodity, as the publicity leaflet indicates:

Mingle with and feed the many animals that roam freely through the ancient site: deer, sheep, geese, goats, peacocks and rare breeds of fowl.

(publicity leaflet)

Again, in the guide book:

It is essential for all our animals to roam freely, and for visitors, both young and old, to have a “hands-on” experience with them which will hopefully stay in their memories forever.

(Guide book, p. 19)

The next paragraph in the guide book stitches together the two elements of the commodified experience:

Many of the breeds here are exactly as the Normans would have kept for meat and milk [...] The punishment for deer-poaching was the removal of a hand or, for a subsequent offence, the death penalty.


Both punishments are illustrated in the reconstruction.

Mountfitchet is not exclusively a market institution and also incorporates elements of the temple in the production of pedagogic texts. This is most apparent in the set of ‘activity sheets which can be purchased for use by teachers with their students; each sheet has a space for the user’s name, form and school. The sheets appear to be differentiated according to the age of their respective ideal readers. Most of the activities on the sheets entail the entry of responses to questions which relate to the information provided by the audiotapes, thus:


Give two reasons why doves and pigeons were important in a Norman Castle.

1. ...........................................................................................................

2. ...........................................................................................................

(Activity sheet 2)

Some of the activities are more open insofar as the castle texts do not provide the answers. Thus two of the sheets invite students to consider how the various siege engines might be used in an attack on the castle. The principles for the evaluation of responses to two of the activities on sheet 1 are not at all clear:

You are entering a Castle and Village, made of wood. It was a home for people and animals. Walk around and find the animals and draw a picture of the one you like best.

What games could you play inside this village? Make a list:-

(Activity sheet 1)

These activities index a pedagogic content which concerns either the discursive or the non-discursive experience which constitutes the service commodity offered by the castle as a market institution. In this respect, the temple moment of the institution is subordinated to its market moment.

The guide book largely comprises photographs of the various figures which populate the site in their respective settings. Each photograph is accompanied by a short paragraph or two providing information similar to that on the audiotapes, but without the displacement of voice, thus:

In general, these descriptions incorporate the various parts of the site into a discursive exposition of everyday life in the referent historical setting. The brief (one page) ‘[...] History of Mountfitchet Castle’ locates the castle in a historical narrative focusing, principally, on the Montfitchet family, for example:

No further information on Henry Laver or on the nature of his article is provided. Nor is any reference made to the difference in spelling between Montfitchet and Mountfitchet. The ‘history’ does, however, refer to the Domesday Book. The brief Domesday Book entry relating to Stanstead Mountfitchet Castle appears in translation in the guide book opposite a full page drawing of the book. Also included are glosses to several of the terms which appear in the translation.

Page 18 of the guidebook provides brief demographic and environmental information about ‘Norman Essex’ and information–mainly titles–on ‘Norman Lords in Essex’. The final paragraph on the page reads:

The double page spread on ‘The Re-construction of Mountfitchet Castle’ is mostly taken up by a large photograph of the part of the site which includes the gallows. The text essentially locates the castle within a construction narrative, including a reference to ‘five plasterers (who worked with pigs’ muck, straw and lime)’ (p. 8). This page concludes with a specialising market strategy:

The guide book thus constructs synchronic and diachronic settings for the experiential service commodity, but provides very little intertextual access to broader historical discourse or to any other esoteric domain of practice which has or might constitute the principles generating the castle as a pedagogic text. The closest that it comes to this is, perhaps, in the reference to its sources, that is, the Domesday Book, the two ‘historical advisers’, and Henry Laver. The indexing of the Domesday Book and, indeed, of Magna Carta and 1066 are more appropriately interpreted as affiliations to very well-known historical documents and events and, as such, should be construed as specialising market strategies. The affiliations to the advisers and to the unaffiliated Hentry Laver similarly establish the castle’s pedigree and do not clearly provide access to the principles of its construction. So, to the extent that the castle as pedagogic text provides no access to its principles of construction, it initiates dependent user voices only and does not entail apprenticing strategies.

Headingham Castle

Headingham Castle is principally a market institution which again combines specialising and fragmenting strategies. Specialising strategies focus, primarily, on the keep which is presented, on an information sheet, as ‘the finest Norman castle in the land’ and in the opening sentence of the guide book as ‘among the most magnificent and best preserved in Europe’. The keep is also described as containing ‘the largest Norman arch in Europe’. The contents of the keep vary in terms of period of origin. There are a small number of exhibits of antique armour (mainly helmets) and weaponry and several shields made of wooden board and painted. Some of the reproduction or antique furniture, fabric and other assorted items (a sword, a book, candles, and so forth) has been arranged in an area which has been roped-off. Elsewhere, modern refectory furniture has been laid out, presumably for the use of visitors. The banners hanging on some of the walls bear coats of arms and the names of historical figures who have been associated with the castle. The rooms in the keep also contain a number of plastic waste bins containing bin-liners, and there appears to have been no attempt made to conceal plastic piping and electrical wiring.

The specialising of the keep would appear to have been attenuated, mainly, presumably, for reasons of economy, but also by the fragmenting tendency of, for example, the diverse range of names on the banners. The inclusion of the souvenir shop and cafeteria in the keep itself also weakens the historical identity of the castle. This also extends the range of services provided by the castle, so that it can be interpreted as a fragmenting strategy.

The combination of specialising and fragmenting strategies continues in the castle grounds, which include a ‘tilting lawn’ and ‘archery butts’ and a joust, an archery tournament and mock attack on the castle, and ‘Medieval Entertainment’ were among the events scheduled for 1997. These events clearly articulate with the identification of the castle as a fortress. However, the grounds also incorporate a picnic and barbecue area and signposted walks around a lake and through a woodland and the events for 1997 also include open days ‘for viewing SNOWDROPS’6, ‘Easter Egg Hunt’, a ‘St George’s Day Pageant with the local cub/scouts parade’, a ‘Vintage Car Rally’ and open air theatre productions. On the first of our visits, a number of visitors were queuing at a face-painting stall which had been set up at the foot of the keep.

The non-historical events and facilities tend to disperse rather than unify the identity of the institution. However, its specific identity as a heritage text is reinforced in the guide book. This publication comprises four pages of description of the keep and approximately eleven pages giving brief biographical notes of the male members of the de Vere family which built and inhabited the castle for about five hundred years of its history. The book also contains a number of photographs, drawings and paintings, only one of which is attributed. The castle description is unsourced and includes some of the window-to-another-age motif that characterises the Montfitchet text, thus:

The biographical notes on the de Veres are generally celebratory of the family, thus it begins with a quotation:

The use of quotation marks around ‘Shakespeare’ and the inclusion of the definite article in front of the name constitute a tacit affiliation to the Oxfordians who have built on the 1920s claim of T.J. Looney that the seventeenth Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, authored the plays attributed to William Shakespeare7. The entry on the seventeenth Earl is more extensive than most of the others and includes references to some of the evidence suporting the claim:

Again, there is the use of the definite article in front of Shakespeare, although here without the quotation marks.

As a market institution, then, Headingham Castle deploys a combination of specialising and fragmenting strategies, the latter might appropriately be described as market opportunism. Unlike Mountfitchet, it is not clear that anything is to be gained by interpreting Headingham as a temple institution. Its texts, in other words, are not interpreted as pedagogic.

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam is, like Mountfichet, a complex institution. However, whilst Mountfitchet was interpreted as primarily a market institution, Bodiam prioritises its temple status. As a temple, Bodiam constitutes and is constituted by a binary subjectivity comprising, firstly, historical discourse and, secondly, a heritage comportment.

As a temple to historical discourse, Bodiam is concerned with the production and reproduction of historical knowledge. This is most evident in the guide book which, at sixty-three pages, is considerably more extensive than the other two. The Bodiam guide book comprises a brief introduction, seven chapters, a bibliography in academic format, an index and the Latin version and English translation of the orginal license to crenellate. Like the others, the book includes a number of photographs and reproductions of drawings and watercolours. In the Bodiam guide, however, the reproductions are sourced or attributed. The genre in which the book is produced is, in other words that of academic writing which is contrasts with the Mountfitchet and Headingham guide books.

The content of the guide book is organised as a principled discourse. This is illustrated by comparing extracts from two of the guide books concerning the original building of the respective castles. First, Mountfitchet:

Now the Bodiam guide book:

The Mountfitchet guide book elides historiography almost completely, adopting, instead, the simple attachment of links between the castle and its direct associates, on the one hand, to notorious individuals, events, and documents, on the other. This is the same strategy as is adopted by the Headingham guide book in its biographical notes on the de Veres. The Bodiam guide, however, makes far more available the principles of its historiography in rationalising the actions of the principals and in sourcing its evidence in a far more academic manner8.

The principles employed in interpreting the use, development and decline of the castle building and are also apparent in the guide, thus:

The guide book also gives some details and illustration of Lord Curzon’s excavation of Bodiam. Throughout, the guide employs the kind of hedging, apparent in the above two extracts, that are consistent with the academic genre, presenting history as an active construction rather than a presentation of known facts. Insofar that the principles of construction of this pedagogic text are available, its reader is constructed as an apprentice voice.

Like Mountfitchet, the Bodiam texts also include items directed at school students and their teachers. The castle also incorporates teaching rooms which can be booked by visiting school parties. These are produced in a very different genre from that of the guide book. The ‘activity book for children’, for example, includes drawings illustrating everyday life in the castle and introduces an imaginary character, Robert the scullion, describing his day in relation to various sites in the castle. As a pedagogic text, the principles of its construction are not explicitly available, so that its reader is constructed, essentially, as a dependent voice. Even here, however, there is some reference to interpretive principles, for example:

The ‘Key stage 1 stories and activity book’ is principally organised as narratives concerning imaginary inhabitants of the castle. The book also contains a number of observation activities. However, it is indexing the National Curriculum in its title. The ‘resource book for teachers’ does this more explicitly and in more detail:

This short list, which is dealt with in greater detail on the pupil activity pages, shows just a few of the NC attainment targets which a project based on Bodiam can help to meet.

The resource book also provides some access to the principles employed in interpreting the building, thus:

Like the guide book, the resource book also contains a bibliography comprising ‘a few of the many books about castles and medieval life which we have found useful’ (p. 24).

As is apparent from the mention of the National Curricula in Geography and Technology, the range of the temple is extended, in the resource book, beyond the history specialism. The book includes, for example, a weathering table which is concerned with the interpretation of weather and climate. This is a fragmenting strategy which indicates the operation of the market aspect of the institution.

The second moment of the binary subjectivity constituted by Bodiam as a temple is the construction of a particular comportment in relation to a national narrative. Thus the castle itself may be interpreted as an aprenticing pedagogic text in terms of, for example, its management of space. The castle signifies a heritage which may be revealed by excavation, but which must not be sullied by modern intervention in any attempt to present what can only be an interpretation of what it might have been like. In this respect it is the very opposite of both Mountfitchet, with its plastic dummies and audiotapes, and Headingham, with its bric-a-brac. Thus the separation from the castle of the ticket office (and the even greater separation of the restaurant and snack kiosk) mark the castle as a monument to its heritage. The reconstruction work at the castle is minimal, being sufficient to make the building safe, to preserve it, and to provide access for visitors who must also be prevented from defiling it. On the second occasion of our visit, the member of staff on duty told us that there had been about 200-300 school children visiting that day, yet the castle was spotless, with not a single item of litter in sight; ‘picnics are welcome anywhere on the grass except inside the castle’ (information leaflet). At the entrance, a black wooden board with white printing reads:

The National Trust

Please note
Please do not climb on
the walls.
It is dangerous and damages
the castle.
Help the National Trust to
protect Bodiam Castle
for everyone, now and in
the future.
Thank you.

Reference to the imagined medieval experience can be found outside the castle–in the ‘model of the castle as it might have been’ located in the museum next to the ticket office–and in the activity and teachers’ resource books, and also in the discreatly positioned video and teaching rooms. At Mountfitchet, such experience constitutes the infrastructure of the castle; here, it must be kept at bay.

This is not, of course, to deny the possibility of resistance texts in the form, for example, of engraved initials and dates on the walls around the postern gate. The duty member of staff referred to the perpetrators of such offences as idiots. However, it is interesting to consider at what point do such attempts by visitors to inscribe themselves into heritage substantively succeed. We found one inscription which was dated 1850 and some undated ones certainly looked older. Inscriptions by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge himself or by his builders certainly qualify as heritage9. This temporal differentiation of the sacred from the profane, like the spatial separation of the ticket office from the castle marks the status of the monument.

The apprenticing of the the heritage subject is predominantly (although not exclusively) non-discursive. The comportment is to be established through the organisation of space and time with minimal linguistic mediation. This mode of practice is characterised by what Dowling (op cit) refers to as low discursive saturation and contrasts with the comparatively high discursive saturation which characterises the practices relating to the historical subject. In general, the former mode is associated with domestic and manual practices and the latter with intellectual practices, so that they constitute and are constituted by social class. In the present case, it is sufficient to note that, the apprenticing and initiating of apprenticed and dependent historical subjects and the apprenticing of the heritage subject may be located at three colinear points on a scale which marks contingency upon prior apprenticing into intellectual practices. Clearly, the universalising of the heritage subject serves to preserve both the material of the monument and a particular orientation to it. The selective action of the apprenticing and initiating strategies of the historical temple operate in much the same way as the discursive practices of the school in producing and reproducing what Bourdieu (1984, 1985) refers to as cultural capital. Clearly, substantive apprenticing and initiation is not guaranteed as the resistence texts indicate. It is also the case that the universalising of the heritage subjectivity is thwarted by the distribution of cultural and economic capital which effectively selects visitors to the monument. Nevertheless, the analysis does reveal the way in which the distinct moments of the temple operate differently in constructing their respective subjectivities.

Whilst primarily a temple, Bodiam also constitutes itself as a market institution. This is apparent in its advertising strategies. The bag that you are given when you buy something from the shop bears the National Trust name and oak emblem, ‘every purchase supports our work’. The request ‘this bag is manufactured from recycled plastic, please re-use it’, of course, recruits a green affiliation as an advertising ploy. Like Headingham, Bodiam deploys a combination of specialising and fragmenting market strategies. The physical layout of the grounds specialises the site through the dominant presence of the castle which, or course, makes it a beautiful site for a picnic (as long as you don’t eat inside the castle). In this respect, Bodiam differs from Headingham, where the keep is not visible from all parts of the grounds. However, only one of the events advertised on the information leaflet is obviously associated with the castle as a specific form of text, the ‘All-Day Medieval weekend and Archery Competition’. The leaflet also advertises a version of the time displacement experience which characterises Mountfitchet:

The claim, here and at the other castles, that one practice can give access to another–in this case, that a contemporary marketing strategy can grant access to the past–is an example of what Dowling (op cit) refers to as the myth of participation. To a certain extent, this myth also characterises those of the Mountfitchet and Bodiam pedagogic texts which initiate dependent subjects by inviting the reader to imagine themselves in another time or by producing narratives concerning imaginary (or actual) historical characters with whom the reader is identified in some way. In his analysis of mathematics textbooks, Dowling opposes this myth with the myth of description whereby one practice describes another, but without concealing the principles employed by the descriptive gaze. In the mathematics setting, the myths are distributed by ‘ability’, such that only the ‘higher ability’ reader has access to the myth of description. This distribution was also found to be associated with the intellectual/manual hierarchy of social class. In the Bodiam texts, the historical apprenticing and initiating strategies might appropriately be characterised as deploying the myths of description and participation respectively. Their association with the intellectual/manual hierarchy has already been indexed.

Conclusion: institutions ideal and real

The institutional types and the associated strategies that we have introduced in this paper are summarised in Table 1. Movement across the table, from apprenticing to initiating or from specialising to fragmenting is achieved via the elision of the principles which constitute the text. Movement between the institutional types constitutes recontextualisation, for example, the recruitment (specialising) of Bodiam as an initiating text by the market institution is apparent in the ‘travel back in time’ extract above.

Table 1: Strategies deployed by temple and market institutional types

Institutional type
explicit principles
implicit principles

subject production
pedagogic relations
object production
exchange relations

As we have illustrated in our analysis, empirical institutions are generally combinations of ideal types. Thus, we can summarise, in general terms, our analysis of the three castles using a quasi-mathematical form of notation as follows.

Mountfitchet Castle
IM = M (s, f ) > T (i )
Headingham Castle
IH = M (s, f )
Bodiam Castle
IB = M (s, f ) < T (a, i )

In these expressions, I stands for institution (suffixed M for Mountfitchet, etc), M refers to the market function which has two possible strategic variables, s and f, referring to specialising and fragmenting, respectively. T refers to the Temple function, again having two possible strategic variables, a and i, referring to apprenticing and initiating, respectively. Note that apprenticing seems not to be a variable in the Mountfitchet temple. The symbols, >, in the first expression and <, in the second indicate that the market dominates the temple in Mountfitchet and vice versa in Bodiam.

The notation can also be expanded to illustrate some of the detail of the analysis. For example, the recruitment by the Bodiam market of its temple initiating strategies (referred to above) may be expressed as M (s[T (i )] ), which indexes the recontextualising of a temple strategy by the market institution.

The value of the notation is similar to that of a table, in that it provides concise and transparent access to the findings of the analysis. It also suggests areas for further analytic development. Thus, we might look, in the texts, for instances of T (a[ M (s, f )], i[ M (s, f )] ), that is, the recruitment by the apprenticing and/or initiating strategies of the temple of the market function. The presence or absence of these possible recontextualisations may shed some light on the differences between different empirical instances of institution and thus lead to the development of the ideal-typical schema. Alternatively, we may consider how such a recontextualising might be achieved. This particular question has clear relevance for the exploitation of marketed resources within pedagogic practice.

We should again emphasise that this is an early attempt to extend the language for the sociological analysis of pedagogic texts which was originally developed by Dowling to a wider range of institutions. Nevertheless, we maintain that the resolution of these heritage texts into institutional types and into strategic modes within these types points to the potential value of such an approach in the analysis and development of pedagogic practices and texts more generally and, indeed, for the analysis and development of market practices and texts.


1. All of the data that we are using has public domain status in that is is publicly available to view, read or purchase. Thus, no issues of confidentiality are involved so that we feel able to identify the castles.

2. ‘Outer’, in the sense that its main gate opens to the outside, whilst that of the ‘inner’ bailey opens to the outer bailey. The baileys are, however, adjacent and not concentric.

3. The use of the term ‘initiation’ in this way was suggested by Paula Ensor of the University of Cape Town.

4. This rotation of the time line is not unique in media texts. As Dowling has noted, it is also a device used in the film Truly, Madly, Deeply in which a bereavement which cannot be established in the diachronic is resolved in the synchronic via the return of the ghost of the deceased lover into the present. The central part of the film concerns the polarising of the lovers and the developing afffiliation of the bereaved to a new lover who is, in many respects, diametrically opposed to the original one in character. The film ends when the ghost witnesses a scene which convinces him that this synchronous bereavement has been achieved so that he is able to leave and the time line rotates back into its stable position in the diachronic.

5. The processes involved in the chicken liberation are not elaborated.

6. These are held on 23rd February and 2nd March, so the reference is presumably to a floral display.

7. See Drabble & Stringer (1987).

8. This is not to imply any concurrence, on our part, with this a-sociological, rationalising approach to the production or exposition of history. The point is that the principles of the discourse are available, not that they are defensible under all circumstances and in all discourses.

9. Some years ago, one of us observed in the ruins of an abbey a transparent plastic plate which had been bolted to the wall so as to preserve what appeared to be an ancient graffito: a cartoonish profile of the abbot.


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