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An Intangible Dynamic: Exploring the role of parental expectations in motivating their children to climb up the social ladder Ke Cui Research Student School.

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Presentation on theme: "An Intangible Dynamic: Exploring the role of parental expectations in motivating their children to climb up the social ladder Ke Cui Research Student School."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Intangible Dynamic: Exploring the role of parental expectations in motivating their children to climb up the social ladder Ke Cui Research Student School of Applied Social Sciences Durham University United Kingdom

2 29/04/ Background: 1. The issue which addresses parental expectation as a dynamic of children’s intergenerational social mobility has rarely been discussed or investigated in mainland China. 2. The construction of social hierarchy and the factors determining a person’s class status have changed a lot because China has experienced several significant social, political and economic reforms since 1949 (PRC). 3. Combing the changing Chinese social context, this research investigates three family cohorts from three different time periods.

3 29/04/ Research Sample: GenerationA: B: C: Number of Family555 Number of Individual Sampling criteria were set based on the categorization of generations in China (e.g. Erickson 2009; Sun & Wang 2010). Three cohorts were included pertaining to the years when parents had their first child ( the birth year of the first child in a family), both parents and children were simultaneously invited to participate in the research. Participants were recruited by means of “snowball” sampling strategy in Hebi city, Henan province, China.

4 29/04/ Research Methods: 1.Data Collection Semi-structured life-history interviews were conducted to the research participants in order to collect personal stories basically concerning their educational and occupational experiences, as well as the role of expectation or aspiration within these experiences. 1.Data Analysis Microanalysis is defined by Strauss and Corbin (1990: 57) as: “detailed line-by-line analysis necessary at the beginning of a study to generate initial categories (with the properties and dimensions) and to suggest relationships among categories.” Considering that this is a theory-generating rather than a theory- testing research, I employed the insights of Grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) to analyse the collected data: Coding.

5 29/04/ Research Findings (1): Factors shaping parental expectation for their children. Macro: Cultural values (Confucianism); Social events (e.g. the Cultural Revolution); and Economic system reforms (from planned to market economy). Meso: Employment system; Household registration system (hukou); University admission system; The One-Child policy.Household registration system (hukou); Micro: Family background (parents’ educational attainment and occupational status, as well as the economic condition); Contingencies (impact on what people can do); Gender.

6 “To be honest, I expect my daughter to obtain a master’s degree. But, you know, it is not good for a girl to obtain too high a degree, such as a doctor’s degree. This is because, I think, a girl will be too old to get married after she has completed the 5 or 6 years post-graduate study, not to say having a baby. Moreover, when a woman has a doctor’s degree, man will not dare to marry her.” “In the current society, a woman with too high an educational level is considered as a ‘strong woman’. The life of ‘strong woman’ is not very happy in my opinion…”

7 29/04/ Research Findings (2): How do parental expectations impact on children’s educational attainment and eventually on their status attainment? Directly: children’s decisions regarding education were influenced and sometimes controlled by their parents; thus, children moved up the social ladder by means of accomplishing their parents’ expectations. Indirectly: Parents with high educational expectations tended to be demanding on children’s academic performance.

8 29/04/ Parental supporting behaviours: Due to the high demand on academic performance, most of the parental informants consistently affirmed that they chose to support their children’s studying in family day-to-day life and these supporting behaviours eventually improved these children’s school performance. Three types of supporting behaviours have emerged: 1) educating children early at their preschool age; 2) offering help with children’s school work; 3) the choice of school. Financial support: Parents with high expectations were much more willing to financially support their children’s education, especially the higher education, without considering the family income.

9 29/04/ Conclusion: Throughout the history, education is widely accepted as a way or even the only way to guarantee a higher social status. In contemporary China, social mobility has become living experiences for more and more Chinese people. But the resources, education and jobs in particular, are still limited considering the growing population. based on the changing and unique social context, it is becoming important and necessary to investigate the mechanisms whereby social mobility is achieved in contemporary China.

10 29/04/ Ke Cui Durham University

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