this research attempted to examine the way the notion of school culture has been appropriated by investigations that take the brazilian schools as their object of study, especially those concerning research on elementary and intermediate schooling. it started with a survey of the students' production in graduate programs between 1987 and 2007, as found in the theses bank of capes. after that, 361 abstracts from dissertations and theses were selected as they referred the term school culture. next, an instrument was developed to examine the variables that could express the characteristics of such production. the analysis of twenty years of academic production indicates a tendency that studies on school culture has been on the rise along the years, as well as a concentration of such investigations in the south-southeast axis of brazil. in addition, dispersion was found in the supervision of researches, as there some effort of concentration just in a few programs or a few supervisors. another finding concerns the high representativeness of studies related to elementary and intermediate schooling, mainly those dealing with teacher education and training, school organization by means of cycles, school management, educational policy, curriculum and teaching methodologies. finally, one may conclude that the notion of school culture has been meaningful to understand the elementary and intermediate schooling.