Emulating Eton: The Paradox of Elite Boarding Schools in the Social Democratic Utopia

The overarching hypothesis of this study is that British-style private boarding schools have during the early 20th century functioned – and still does – as a key institution in the distribution of high positions within the economic elite sphere, not only in England, but in such diverse countries such as the US (including the New England preparatory boarding schools), Switzerland (international boarding schools such as the Intitut Le Rosey), Australia (Geloong School), and the former British colonies in Africa and Asia. Although this thesis cannot capture the full extent of the export of the British boarding school ideal, this case study of its spread to Sweden will illustrate some of the larger structures, or mechanisms, behind it. And by studying the transfer of the boarding school concept, and the ethos it produces, we can increase our knowledge of the transnational mechanisms behind the wider phenomenon of how certain elite groups’ habits, educational strategies and way of life diffuse to other countries.

Collaborators: Petter Sandgren Department of History and Civilization, European University Institute Funding Body: European University Institute- Swedish Research Council

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