14 SES 10 B, Concerted Cultivation in a Cross -Cultural Perspective (Part 2)
Symposium continued from 14 SES 09 B
Putnam and others have drawn attention to how the middle-class ideal of cultivational parenting – meaning a form of parenting that is involved and committed towards giving the child possibilities to grow and develop – has spread and become a new moral order that parents across classes and other divides engage with. This paper draws on analysis of interviews with parents of teenagers from a qualitative longitudinal study set in a medium large Norwegian city. The study followed approximately 100 teenagers during lower secondary school (age group 13-15) in and out of school. The parents of close to half the students were interviewed in year nine when the students were 14. We interviewed the parents about the child’s everyday life in the family at school and leisure activities. The sample of parents is diverse in terms of social class, but there are more middle-class than working-class families represented. Across classes, parents talked about their role as parents in cultivational terms. They monitored their child’s development and well-being and intervened if the child got ‘off track’. Class differences were found in how parents defined off track and the centrality put on solving what they saw as school problems. We found working-class parents to have a higher threshold than middle-class parents for defining low performances and lack of school motivation as a problem. In contrast to middle-class parents, working-class parents could also choose to minimize the role of the school in the child’s life. Still they were committed towards supporting the child and to get him on track again. Middle-class parents’ insistence on the centrality of the school project in their efforts to get the child on track caused tensions in the parent-child relationship - that working-class parents did not seem to experience. Based on these patterns we discuss how cultivational parenting is given local meanings, in the working class and middle class respectively.
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