Inhabitants Moving In: Prospective Sense-Making and the Reproduction of Inhabited Institutions in Teacher Education


Direct all correspondence to Judson G. Everitt, Department of Sociology, Loyola University Chicago, 1032 W. Sheridan Rd., Coffey Hall 427, Chicago, IL 60660; e-mail:


This article advances the scholarship on inhabited institutions with analysis of the professional socialization of new teachers. My findings show that incoming teachers develop a perspective I call an “injunction to adapt” to prospective classroom contingencies, and define this as fundamental to effective teaching. Teacher candidates become primed to perform prospective work in ways that are tightly-coupled with institutional mandates of public schools in some ways, and loosely-coupled with them in others. I argue that attention to professional socialization highlights the ways that people's sense-making can be prospective and anticipatory as well as ongoing and retrospective. Furthermore, I argue that analyzing professional socialization as a process of “interpretive reproduction” offers fruitful opportunity to wed the key strengths of symbolic interactionism with new institutionalism, as it reveals ways in which interaction and sense-making can serve to reproduce and maintain the legitimacy of institutional logics while also serving as a source of individual creativity.