Free-School Norms: A Case Study in External Influence on Internal Group Development

Robert Shuter

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4 Scopus citations


This paper examines the normative system of a free school and its effect on the development of small cohesive groups of free-school children. Since the small group is bound to its contemporaneous social field, it was hypothesized that the influence of the free school's humanistic norms on student group behavior should result in (a) empathetic understanding of deviants, (b) minimal pressures toward uniformity, and (c) humanistic norm development. It was found, however, that competition, interpersonal intolerance, and optimum pressures toward uniformity existed in the small cohesive, ftee-school group. It was discovered that the operant normative system of the free school was not consonant with the school's philosophy. The difficulty in operationalizing a humanistic alternative institution in a technocratic society is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-293
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
StatePublished - Mar 1973
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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