Patterns of Parenting, Class Relations and Inequalities in Education and Leisure: A Grounded Theory
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AbstractThe class structure of Britain has changed considerably since the 1970s. The gap between the rich and poor has grown, and many individuals can no longer be classified into traditional middle- and working-class categories. Despite polarisation and fragmentation, however, social class has continued to shapes individuals’ daily lives and life-chances. There are distinct class inequalities in education and leisure that appear to be resistant to intervention. Governments and other public organisations have invested considerable funds and deployed various policies, but individuals from affluent backgrounds continue to do better in the education system and be more active in their leisure time than individuals from deprived backgrounds. Academics have also turned their attention to class inequalities in education and leisure, especially of late. Research indicates that such inequalities emerge during early childhood and remain through youth and into adulthood. This, along with evidence of the limited effectiveness of interventions delivered through schools, has made one thing clear: to explain the production and reproduction of class inequalities in education and leisure and do something about them through policy, researchers and governments must look to the family. The ways in which parents from different social classes are involved and invest in their children’s education and leisure have been researched quite extensively. However, the findings in many of the studies are un-integrated and de-contextualised. In addition, much of the research is deductive – academics have tended to test theories and the significance particular family variables and processes. This thesis, therefore, set out to produce a grounded theory of class-specific patterns of parenting in relation to children’s education and leisure. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a case study of parents and children from a small city in the north-west of England. Two main social classes emerged out of the case study, a group tentatively described as an ‘under-class’ and a middle-class divided into fractions. It was found that social class impacted upon several areas of family life, and differences in these areas of family life clustered together to form class-specific patterns of parenting. The under-class pattern of parenting was conceptualised as ‘essential assistance’. It conveys the present-centred and basic involvement of the parents – they did not think a great deal about the future but did what was necessary to keep their children up with their peers on a day-to-day basis. The middle-class pattern of parenting was conceptualised as ‘concerted cultivation’. It conveys the forward-thinking and deliberate nature of the parents’ involvement. Also, the meticulous lengths to which the parents went – every aspect of their children’s development was open to pruning. The middle-class parents were involved in their children’s education and leisure in similar ways, but to different degrees. Thus, concerted cultivation can be regarded as gradational. Class-specific patterns of parenting can be linked to the production of class-related patterns of inequality. Through essential assistance and concerted cultivation, under-class and middle-class parents condition their children to think and act in particular ways. More specifically, they furnish their children with different skills, preferences and mentalities. A detailed discussion of the theoretical and policy implications of these patterns of parenting is provided in the conclusion to the thesis.
CitationWheeler, S. (2013). Patterns of parenting, class relations and inequalities in education and leisure: a grounded theory (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionThis thesis is available to view in print at Seaborne Library, University of Chester, Parkgate Road, Chester, CH1 4BJ.
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