To acknowledge the contribution friends, peers and students made to a work which spanned ten years of one's life, has to be an impossible task. It is not only that one forgets and that, in any event, words are inadequate to express one's debts, it is also that the traditional form for such acknowledgements conspire to emphasize the essential aloneness of the speakers "This work would not have been possible without these... but I am solely responsible for what follows." Who is this "I," and how is it constituted?
"I," of course, am responsible for this work. None of those who participated with me in this ende- avor would have written what follows. I am alone in that I am the voice that immediately speaks here. But the dominance of this voice in the dialogue that is established with the reader must not lead one to assume that the book is not, also, a collective work. "I" would not have a voice if it were not for "then," "You," my friends.
Thus, it is more than ten years ago, in the early summer of 1972, that Professors Ianni and Leichter of Teachers College, Columbia University, invited me to join them in a comparative study of social organization in three high schools in and around New York City. 'his study was partially funded by the National Institute for Education, the Ford Foundation and the Horace Mann-Lincoln Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University. For their help, I gratefully acknowledge these institutions.
Soon, I found myself on the way to "Sheffield," by train by car, with Patricia Caesar and Rodney Riffel, two doctoral students at Teachers College. They conducted much of the fieldwork and wrote many of the notes that I used later and are now excerpted in the book. Many of the analyses performed here began in discussions with them on the rickety commuter train that generally took us back and forth from Manhattan to Sheffield.* They certainly provided me with a lively and critical audience.
The fieldwork was conducted in the academic year 1972-3. Between then and now, I have been working on and off on the manuscript that has now reached its final form. During that period, a series of articles have prefigured what is offered here (Varenne, 1974, 1976 [with M. Kelly], 1976, 1978, 1981, 1982, forthcoming). The maturation of the work has been conducted in an atmosphere of conversations with many: students and research assistants like Joyce Canaan, Marj Kelly, Shelley Goldman; colleagues like James Boon, Lawrence Cremin, Clifford Hill, Hope Leichter, Ray McDermott, Thomas Sebeok, George and Louise Spindler. To all of them, and to all those whom I have forgotten in their uniqueness, I am grateful. Without them, I would not be able to be the "voice" that speaks in the "I" of authorship.
Above all, of course, this book would not have been possible without the hospitality of the people of Sheffield High School. Their relaxed openness to our intrusion, the help they gave us, the manner they had of making of our "investigation" a profoundly "human" experience, all is more than we were entitle to ask for. They gave us a lot. At the time, we gave them back some. Whether this work redresses the balance, I may not decide.
There is nothing ritual either in recognizing the contribution of those who have provided technical assistance. Diane Hoffman typed the fieldnotes. Marj Kelly combed them for all references to specific indi- viduals and did all sorts of other such thankless but so necessary tasks. Janet Weber helped me with final editing and indexing. The people of the Word Processing Center at Teachers College, under the able direc tion of Rocky Schwartz, typed and re-typed many parts of the manuscript, and they made room for me when my time came to confront the Vydec.
Finally, I want to tell of Susan, ay wife, with me these ten years. I cannot express what it has meant to me for her to accept to share in the building of the life of which this book has been a part. It has meant very much and more than that. Above all, Susan has made it all worthwhile. May we continue making it worthwhile together!
New York, September 1973-February 1983
* Two pieces by Riffel on Sheffield High School are available (1977a, 1977b).