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In this chapter I make my case for the utility of institutionalism for historians of education, first by explaining institutional theory and how it has been applied to, and shaped by, the study of schooling, and then by applying new theoretical developments to district-level historical research using examples drawn from earlier chapters in this volume. Ultimately, institutional theory may help us to interrogate Tyack and Cuban’s notion of institutional change in schools, by elaborating on their construction of the change process through specific, embedded, settings, and by rethinking how we determine what “counts” as change in schools and districts.



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