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Negotiated Dynamics: Exploring the role of parental educational expectations as a mechanism for encouraging children’s social mobility

CUI, KE (2014) Negotiated Dynamics: Exploring the role of parental educational expectations as a mechanism for encouraging children’s social mobility. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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In this study, I investigated the role of parental educational expectations in promoting children’s social mobility. I paid attention to Chinese socio-economic developments, the changing social structure and dynamics of social stratification as well as the development of education from the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Thus, I examined and analysed the changing patterns of parental expectations for their children’s education, factors shaping their construction in this regard and effects of parental educational expectations on their children’s educational attainments along with the aforementioned changes in social contexts.
In view of the explorative nature of my study, a reflexive qualitative approach was adopted in the research design. The data were collected through semi-structured life history interviews. Research participants were selected from my home city, Hebi, located in the north of Henan province, China. Participants in my study were classified into three Generations, which represent parents who bore their first child in 1960-1979, 1980-1989, and 1990-2000 respectively and their children. Thematic coding was adopted for data analysis.
The findings revealed that, first of all, as it had been generally presumed Chinese parents attached great importance to their children’s education and held high educational expectations. Secondly, besides the influence of Confucian philosophy, Chinese parents predominately grounded their educational expectations in their social contexts and family backgrounds. Thirdly, parents’ educational expectations impacted on children’s educational outcomes mainly through parents’ involvement in their children’s education to make their educational expectations come true. Moreover, I emphasized that children’s educational achievements were determined by an interaction between parental expectations and children’s aspirations regarding education. Thus, I suggest that children’s social mobility is an outcome of the negotiated interaction between parents’ agency, children’s agency, and social, economic and political factors and contexts determining the positioning of people in society. Nevertheless, I maintain that it is beyond the scope of the current thesis to comment upon the relevance of these research findings beyond the small sample studied. It could serve as the basis for a large-scale study that attempts to examine the situation in China more generally. Finally, I conclude with some policy and practice recommendations regarding the narrowing achievement gap and lessening social fluidity occurring in contemporary China.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:21 Oct 2014 14:34

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