14 SES 09 B, Concerted Cultivation In A Cross-Cultural Perspective (Part 1)
Symposium to be continued in 14 SES 10 B
Education plays an increasingly important role in equipping children with knowledge, practical and social skills, as well as defining social location and potential social mobility. It is women who are primarily responsible for ensuring the production of an educated person. Practices and perceptions of mothering are produced in response to changing requirements and expectations of what mothers can and should be doing in relation to their children's education and the demands of educational institutions. This paper is based on a broad, cross-cultural, ethnographically-informed interview study of middle-class mothers from three social-cultural groups in Israel: Russian newcomers, Palestinian Israelis and Jewish native-born. We ask: What are mothers' understandings of a proper education for their children and of their role in ensuring this? How do class and culture conjoin in shaping perceptions and practices of educating children? Findings show that all the women in our study adhere to an activist perception of motherhood, assuming that their engagement in their children's upbringing and education must be purposefully, properly and intensively pursued. Using Lareau's (2003) distinction between middle and working class modes of mothering, mothers in our study definitely fall into the "concerted cultivation" camp, rather than that of "accomplishment of natural growth". Within this broad category, however, women across the three groups adopt different interpretations of "concerted cultivation", and cluster differently regarding what they view as needing "concerted cultivation" and what may be left to "naturally grow". Initial findings show that Palestinian mothers view their role as ensuring the "well-invested child" - primarily through intensive engagement in navigating their children's schooling, while leaving the development of Palestinian national identity to "natural growth"; Russian mothers view their role as ensuring their children's proper "development" (razvitie in Russian) - primarily through an intensive schedule of scholastic and cultural extra-curricular enrichment activities, rather than engaging with school; Jewish native-born Israeli mothers seek to bind together cultivation of child with cultivating an intimate home and family environment. Thus, whilst the women share certain ideas about mothering and education, these are also differentially shaped by their endeavors to maintain and secure their position in the middle-class, as well as by distinct cultural models of mothering and education.
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