Multicultural desires? Parental negotiation of multiculture and difference in choosing secondary schools for their children

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Abstract

This paper considers the ways in which parents talk about choosing secondary schools in three areas of Greater Manchester. It argues that this can be a moment when parents are considering their own attitudes to, and shaping their children's experiences of, multiculture. Multiculture is taken as the everyday experience of living with difference. The paper argues that multiculture needs to be understood as shaped not only by racialized, ethnic or religious difference (as it is commonly understood) but also by other differences which parents may consider important, particularly class and approaches to parenting. We stress the need to examine what parents say about schooling in the context in which they are talking, which is shaped by local areas and the experiences of their children in primary schools. Based on interviews with an ethnically mixed groups of parents from different schools, we show how perceptions of the racialized and class demographics of schools can influence parents' choice of secondary schools. The paper also argues that attention needs to be paid to the ways in which terms such as 'multicultural' and 'mix' are applied uniformly to very different contexts, be they particular schools or local areas, suggesting there is a paucity of language in Britain when talking about multiculture. © 2013 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Journalsociological review
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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