14 SES 09 B, Concerted Cultivation In A Cross-Cultural Perspective (Part 1)
Symposium to be continued in 14 SES 10 B
Lareau’s concepts of concerted cultivation and natural growth have animated research into parenting and the reproduction of inequalities across generations, and echo a long tradition of sociological research into the links between cultural values and material circumstances. Research building on Lareau’s insights has explored her model of social class and examined diversity and complexity within as well as across social classes. Broadly speaking, evidence points to the importance of differentiated accounts of material circumstances and ethical commitments and values, but accounts which still illuminate the structured reproduction of inequalities across generations. The paper offers an account of a mixed method and qualitative longitudinal project set up, in part, to interrogate class diversity, and the contextual shaping of parents’ ideas, values and practices. Conducted in a northern city in England and run from 2008 to 2014, the analysis highlights a number of themes, including the value of a more graduated understanding of social class and class fractions. For example, parents’ ethical commitments and practices related to current circumstances, but also importantly to their sense of efficacy in shaping their children’s futures and, relatedly, to their own backgrounds and biographies. The research explored parents’ evolving ideas and practices as their children grew up through their teenage years, and interrogated commonalities as well as marked differences across social classes. Differences were particularly evident in respect of the availability of resources and of opportunities, in the role parents took in relation to children’s decision making, and in the value accorded to academic and vocational pursuit. In respect of mid- to longer term societal changes, parents’ values and practices acquire more, or less, traction in supporting children’s future life chances, depending on how they fit with new arrangements. As the ground changes, cultivation practices may be less productive of desired outcomes. Conducted through an historical period of recession, sharply increased HE fees and shrinking youth labour market opportunities, the research explored how parents reacted to and reflected upon such changes and, in turn, considers some implications for theorising the reproduction of social inequalities across generations.
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