Open Access: The book Chinese Migrant Parents and Complementary Schooling in Germany is an Open Access title (10.3224/96665050), which is free to download or can be bought as paperback. The book holds a Creative Commons License Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0): https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ / Der Titel Rethinking Teacher Education for the 21st Century (DOI: 10.3224/96665050) ist kostenlos im Open Access (PDF) herunterladbar oder kostenpflichtig als Print-Ausgabe erhältlich. Der Titel steht unter der Creative Commons Lizenz Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0): https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
How do parents cooperate with each other, what value do they attach to their interaction and how is the degree of cooperation related to social status? The study takes a close look at the social relationships among various groups of Chinese parents at a Chinese Mandarin language school in a metropolitan city in Germany. Taking an ethnographic approach, it captures a vivid picture of the parental social interactions in and outside the Chinese school setting. The study reveals the significance of social interactions, discussing it in relation to the parents’ socioeconomic backgrounds and individual migrant trajectories.
Three distinctive groups emerged during the fieldwork at the school, the Networkers, the High-Profiles, and the Marginalised, reflecting their social economic status. The data consists of audio-recorded interactions among the parents in the school setting, a series of interviews with key participants and fieldnotes. Drawing on a discourse theoretical approach, the author pays close attention to their construction of meaning in the parental interactions at a micro level and at a macro level. The study develops the understanding of the notion of bonding social capital (Putnam, 2000) within the context of complementary schooling by illustrating how strong emotional bond and group solidarity were fostered among the migrant parents. Significantly, the study shows that bonding social capital among three participant groups varied depending on their socioeconomic backgrounds. While the Networkers and the High-Profiles were able to articulate resources and opportunities that emerged during their social interactions to facilitate their involvement with the Chinese complementary school and local Chinese community, the Marginalised were often left out. Similarly, this study also illuminates various approaches towards bridging social capital (Putnam, 2000). Whilst the Networkers and the High-Profiles were much better able to use their social interactions at the school to explore and reinforce their close social contacts with the local German elite, the Marginalised engagement with the host society was largely mediated by their children and associated with their neighbours.
In summary, the research strongly suggests that the Chinese complementary school acts as a microcosm of the reproduction of social order and resonates with Bourdieu’s notion of the class-based nature of social capital. While some of the parents create meaningful networks, mutual support and a sense of group belonging, which have reinforced their social status and engagement with the host society, for other parents, these are less accessible, provide limited benefits and reproduce social inequalities.
Dr. Jiayin Li-Gottwald is a research fellow in the field of socialisation with a focus on migration and intercultural education at the University of Kassel.
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The target group:
Researchers in sociology and educational science