Sensemaking and Power

Processes of Interaction in a High-Achieving Danish Public School


  • Merete Storgaard Aarhus University



educational leadership, governance, high-achieving school, sensemaking, power


The modernization of governance and the marketization of the Danish public education sector since the 1980s, has resulted in changes both in the constitutive conditions and in the discursive understandings framing the purpose of the public education system for educational leaders, teachers, and social educators working in schools. We know less about how the neoliberal modernization processes affect the schools at a micro-processual sensemaking level and a relational power level. In this analytical perspective, there is a scientific need to understand how these organizing and sensemaking processes are conducted through the discursive construction of power relations in modernized, institutional settings, and how these processes affect the organizational understandings, professional identities and social relations of the members in a high-achieving Danish public school. I investigate leadership from a micro-analytical perspective, as inter-action processes centered around the creation of common understanding and the enactment of policy, and mobilize a theoretical understanding of leadership processes as social sensemaking constructions that are constituted, framed and transformed in a given context of discursive and institutional power. I argue that the members of the organization holding both formal and informal leadership positions construct under-standings through social power struggles in ambiguous and contradictory discursive orders. Further, these struggles create new power relations and democratic forms of leadership within a hidden power structure of a high-achieving Danish school owing to governance transitions in the Danish public education sector.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


Czarniawska-Joerges, B. (2007). Shadowing: and other techniques for doing fieldwork in modern societies. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.

Fairclough, N. (2015). Language and Power (3rd ed.). London & New York: Routledge.

Foucault, M. (1983). Afterword: The subject and power. In H. Dreyfus & P. Rabinow (Eds.), Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics (pp. 208–228). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Jordan, B., & Henderson, A. (1995). Interaction analysis: Foundations and practice. Journal of the Learning sciences, 4(1), 39–103.

Moos, L. (2002). Cultural Isomorphs in Theories and Practice of School Leadership. In K. Leithwood & P. Hallinger (Eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Leadership and Administration (pp. 359–394). Dordrecht: Springer.

Moos, L. (2003). Pædagogisk ledelse: om ledelsesopgaven og relationerne i uddannelsesinstitutionerne. København: Børsen.

Moos, L. (2013). Transnational influences on values and practices in Nordic Educational Leadership: is there a Nordic Model? (Vol. 19). Dordrecht: Springer.

Moos, L. (2017). Dannelse. Kontekster, visioner, temaer og processer. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag.

Norman, F. (1992). Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Pedersen, D. (2004). Ledelsesrummet i managementstaten. In D. Pedersen (Ed.) Offentlig Ledelse i Managementstaten (pp. 104–136). København: Samfundslitteratur.

Storgaard, M. (work in progress). Ledelse og styring i succesfulde, højtpræsterende skoler i et internationalt, komparativt perspektiv - et casestudie af diskursive organiserings,- og meningsskabelsesprocesser i Danmark og Ontario, Canada, som policyscapes. Århus Universitet.

Svennevig, J. (2008). Trying the easiest solution first in other-initiation of repair. Journal of Pragmatics, 40(2), 333–348.

Weick, K. E. (1976). Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems. Administrative Science Quarterly, 21(1), 1–19.

Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in Organizations. London: Sage Publications, Inc.

Weick, K. E., Sutcliffe, K. M., & Obstfeld, D. (2005). Organizing and the process of sensemaking. Organization Science, 16(4), 409–421.




How to Cite

Storgaard, M. (2018). Sensemaking and Power: Processes of Interaction in a High-Achieving Danish Public School. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE), 2(2-3), 134–148.