14 SES 05 A, School-related Transitions - Secondary and Beyond (Migrant Students and Families)
International comparisons show that Norway is a world leader in intergenerational social mobility. Family background still makes a difference as to outcomes later in life, with a background of migration from some regions being particularly significant (Blanden, Greegg, & Machin, 2005; Hermansen, 2016). There are also signs that the economic gap between different social groups is growing also in Norway. The Norwegian school is expected to provide equal educational opportunity, but this role is challenged in a modern society that is characterized both by an increase in complexity due to global migration and by a higher focus on student individual performance (Imsen & Volckmar, 2014). This challenge is made especially visible at the upper-secondary (high school) level. Here the students' enrolment choice of general academic and vocational tracks is based on their previous attainment and performance is consequential for college degree competition and outcomes later in life (Reisel, 2011).
Parent involvement internationally is seen as a resource that would contribute to the goal of equity by helping to increase performance and completion among students (Wang & Sheikh‐Khalil, 2014). Several policies introduced in the last decade in Norway have increased formal rights for parent involvement at the upper-secondary level. However, this may have had an insignificant effect on the influence of the less resourceful groups of parents, including migrants (Bæck, 2017). Besides, there is discussion as to the appropriate forms and boundaries to contact between the school and the parents of the youth as they develop their identity and autonomy (Dannesboe, Kryger, Palludan, 2019; Jónsdóttir, 2015). Parents, and migrant parents, may be seen by the schools as overambitious on behalf of the students, causing conflict with the teaching staff and unnecessary stress for the adolescent (Hegna, Smette, 2017; Vedeler, 2020).
In this paper, I examine how the parents’ role is negotiated in the encounter with the schools' parent involvement practices and attitudes. This contribution is part of an ongoing project which examines the encounter between upper-secondary schools and immigrant families via a qualitative case study of three schools (two more urban, one more rural). The study looks at the encounter from the perspectives of the teachers, parents, and students and is expected to contribute internationally to better awareness of the consequences of parent-home policy decisions in terms of equity.
The paper draws on Bourdieu's social theory (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990) to investigate structural processes of reproduction of social inequality in education and how schools, students, and parents may attempt to counter these mechanisms. This approach allows me to look at the families' resources with monetary and temporary value and at resources that are not monetary in nature and take time to accumulate (cultural, social, emotional) (Bourdieu, 2004/1983; Reay 2015). The family's choices, the possibilities that appear to be available to the students, parents, and teachers can be limited by the logic of "what is and is not do-able and thinkable, in terms of what is (and is not) recognized and rewarded in a given field" (Grenfell, 2009). As Ball, Reay, and David show in their study, the decisions made by the students are not determined by ethnicity and migration status alone and generalizations can be misleading, but differences in social and cultural capital do provide a starting point for discussion about how educational and life patterns are made (Ball et al., 2002).
This paper draws on findings of a qualitative case study of encounters between three Norwegian upper-secondary schools and immigrant families. For the schools, a combination of expert and opportunity sampling was used: They were chosen based on their stated engagement in involving migrant parents and diversity issues and based on expert advice, but they also were the ones that had time for the project, as many high schools with similar profiles are over-researched. All three schools have developed parent involvement policies before this became mandatory for high schools and are known by the local teacher educators for their competence in multicultural education. A combination of observation, interviews, and document analysis was used. The sampling of informants was done theoretically, as the themes that came up under interviews with teachers and students showed which further interviews and documents could shed more light on the complexity of the relations between the school and the families (Glaser & Strauss, 2017). In-depth interviews with school leaders (four), teachers and other relevant staff (ten) represent the school perspective. Interviews with students (twelve) included students with different ethnic backgrounds, migration status and time of residence in Norway. Where it was comfortable for the students their parents (five) were also interviewed. They came from Eastern and Central Europe, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East as job migrants or refugees. The interviews were supplied by relevant documents and observation of two days of three offline and 12 online student-teacher conferences at one of the schools, some with parents present. The conferences lasted from 10 to 15 minutes and were not recorded due to sensitivity of issues discussed, but notes were taken in the process. The analysis is ongoing and is based on Bourdieu's concepts of field, habitus and capital and draws on the history of the three schools and, where available, the lifestories of some of the students and their parents. The ethical aspects of the study, including the dangers of generalizing in writing about minority students and reflexivity over the effects of the researcher being a migrant parent with relatively high social status are addressed, and the required ethical permissions acquired.
The preliminary results of the study indicate that the schools appreciate the parents' role at home but are also concerned with the appropriate forms and boundaries to contact as the youth develop their identity and autonomy. The focus of this paper is on findings that relate to the role of the parents as constructed by the school and the students. On the school side, there is a sense of ambiguity: on the one hand, the parents should be involved, as expected by the legislation and Norwegian school culture. In some cases, they even must be involved, when the students misbehave or end up in trouble. On the other hand, parents that do not master the school's codes pose a threat of putting too much pressure on the student and are best held at a distance when the major choices are undertaken by the students in consultation with the school staff. The parents in the study feel that their influence on the school has dwindled compared to their experiences from middle school. They must find a balance between showing concern and trusting their now deemed competent adolescent children to make the right choices. The students share their appreciation of parents' support and motivation to social mobility that comes from the home. They also admit to not sharing most of their fears for the future and hardly any of the specific struggles around grades and relations with the teachers and co-students with their parents. They rely on the school for most of their support and were often uneasy with the idea of me talking to the parents about their school situation. The study registers some differences between students with different cultural and social backgrounds, also based on tracks they were able to enter and the school's history and background.
Ball, S. J., Reay, D., & David, M. (2002). 'Ethnic Choosing': Minority ethnic students, social class and higher education choice. Race ethnicity and education, 5(4), 333-357. Bourdieu, P. (2004). The forms of capital. In S. J. Ball (Ed.), The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Sociology of Education. London and New York: Routledge/Falmer, 15-29. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.-C. (1990). Reproduction in education, society and culture (Vol. 4): Sage. Blanden, J., Gregg, P., & Machin, S. (2005). Intergenerational mobility in Europe and North America. London: London School of Economics. Bæck, U.-D. K. (2017). It is the air that we breathe. Academic socialization as a key component for understanding how parents influence children’s schooling. Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy, 3. Dannesboe, K. I., Kryger, N., & Palludan, C. (2019). When school-family relations matter-discomfort and struggle among children, young people and their parents. International Journal about Parents in Education, 11(1). Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (2017). Theoretical sampling. In Sociological methods (pp. 105-114). Routledge. Grenfell, M. (2009). Applying Bourdieu's field theory: the case of social capital and education. Education, Knowledge & Economy, 3(1), 17-34. Hegna, K., & Smette, I. (2017). Parental influence in educational decisions: young people’s perspectives. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 38(8), 1111-1124. Hermansen, A. S. (2016). Moving Up or Falling Behind? Intergenerational Socioeconomic Transmission among Children of Immigrants in Norway. European Sociological Review, 32. Imsen, G., & Volckmar, N. (2014). The Norwegian school for all: Historical emergence and neoliberal confrontation. In The Nordic education model, 35-55. Springer, Dordrecht. Jeynes, W. H. (2005). Effects of parental involvement and family structure on the academic achievement of adolescents. Marriage & Family Review, 37(3), 99-116. Jonsdottir, K. (2015). Teenagers’ Opinions on Parental Involvement in Compulsory Schools in Iceland. International Journal about Parents in Education, 9(1), 24-36. Reay, D. (2015). Habitus and the psychosocial: Bourdieu with feelings. Cambridge journal of education, 45(1), 9-23. (2011). Two paths to inequality in educational outcomes: Family background and educational selection in the United States and Norway. Sociology of Education, 84(4), 261-280. Vedeler, G. W. (2020). Collaborative autonomy support – a pivotal approach in the legislation regulating school-home collaboration in Norwegian upper secondary schools. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 1-16. Wang, M. T., & Sheikh‐Khalil, S. (2014). Does parental involvement matter for student achievement and mental health in high school? Child development, 85(2), 610-625.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.