Research

SSSHL Seminar Series presents, Parenting high-achieving working class boys in poverty within a context of austerity - problematising active cultivation as an explanation for beating the odds

  • 28 November 2018
  • 4.00PM - 6.00PM
  • Not a public event  |  Booking required: Yes
  • CL1.01 , Clarendon Building  |  Directions

About | SSSHL Seminar Series presents, Parenting high-achieving working class boys in poverty within a context of austerity - problematising active cultivation as an explanation for beating the odds



Event title: SSSHL Seminar Series presents:
Parenting high achieving working class boys in poverty within a context of austerity - problematising active cultivation as an explanation for beating the odds


In recent decades a powerful narrative identifies a parent crisis and bad parenting as key to explaining social ills including poverty, crime and disorder and Broken Britain (Gillies et al, 2017: 17). There is an increasingly intense focus on parent upskilling and parent pedagogy delivered to address ‘the wrong type of parenting’, which is argued to undermine Britain’s place in a global competitive environment. Parents in poverty have featured prominently in crisis talks which pathologises them as shirkers, skivers, morally deficient and socially irresponsible (Jensen, 2018: 22).

When a small number of parents raise children who beat the odds to do well in education, the concept of active cultivation is used as an explanation. Active cultivation is conceptualized as an acculturation process where a small number of parents in poverty move beyond negative working class cultural logics to embrace middle class concerted cultivation which values prioritising academic aspiration and nurturing skills. Their lack of access to material resources is downplayed in this process (Siraj-Blatchford et al, 2013). Drawing on data from several recent research projects, including one which consulted with parents living in poverty whose children were succeeding against the odds, I will problematise this construction of active cultivation. This involves questioning the existence of widespread negative logic shaping the parenting approach of those in poverty.

Alleged differences in the desires of parents in poverty to support their children’s well-being and also to help develop their skills and talents will be challenged. Social class and parents’ differential access to a wide range of resources (money, cultural capital and social capital) is crucial to the parenting process. Active cultivation with its emphasis on good parenting being achievable if parents in poverty would just behave in a thrifty, resourceful and resilient way are part of a wider narrative rich in ‘anti-welfare commonsense’ shaping an ideological project currently reforming/dismantling the welfare state.



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