The K. School. Residential Management of Troublesome Girls in Transition-time Estonia


              The topic of this research is a closed educational institution in Estonia for young girls who are defined as having different kinds of problems. 

             The research was carried out as an ethnographical participant observation in which a social constructionist theory was adapted. With regard to the research at hand, the transition and the consequent changes in the society became the ultimate research topic not only through the process of describing the institution in question and the system behind it, but also concerning the research process as a whole, including the development of author’s scientific thinking, and the development of the understanding of social work as a new profession in Estonia.

The work is divided into three parts. The first part gives an overview of the theoretical and methodological basis of the research, and introduces the author’s approach to the research topic. There is also a brief overview of the historical development of residential care of troublesome youngsters in Estonia.

          The second part describes the K. School with regard to its physical space as a stage (in Goffman’s understanding of this word), its actors, the daily regime and other activities at the institution. A special focus is the gender and ethnic issues. 

The third part explores the analysis of the rhetoric of changes, changes in rhetoric, and the contradictions that the new rhetoric includes with regard to the context of the transition time Estonia. The last chapter also includes certain general conclusions of the whole study and critical remarks on the present tendencies of development.

           The transition process in Estonia as ‘Westernisation’ has a clearly visible impact on the K. School. The new values expressed in the institutional rhetoric are based on denial and the destruction of former values. The adaptation of so-called ‘Western’ attributes to the institution begins with external manifestation of things. This includes the application of new vocabulary into the operation of the institution and a new rhetoric. However, the new words now in use have their very specific local meanings, which become clear when the new rhetoric is compared with the activities.

Key words: residential management, troubled girls, ethnography research, social changes, social constructionism.