Parenting and parent–school relations in a neoliberal age

Carol Vincent, UCL Institute of Education, draws on data from 20 years of qualitative projects with parents to discuss and analyse four issues. The first is the apparent responsibilities of parents to deliver both the school and home setting which will provide ‘the best’ for their children. Second, the gendering of parental responsibilities. Third, the investigation into how class and ethnicity shape parents’ relationships with educational institutions. Drawing on Bourdieu’s conceptual framework, Vincent considers how parents’ habitus and the forms and volumes of capital they both possess and can activate inform their struggles for position in the field of schooling. Fourth, she seeks to complicate the binary between middle-class and working-class parents with the former commonly assumed to be powerful and effective in the field of schooling, and the latter powerless and ineffective.

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