Class, education and parenting: cross-cultural perspectives

Deborah Golden, Lauren Erdreich, Kari Stefansen, Ingrid Smette

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


Over three decades ago (in a paper published in this Journal), Brown discerned the emergence of a ‘parentocracy’, in which a child’s education is ‘increasingly dependent upon the wealth and wishes of parents, rather than the ability and effort of pupils’ (1990, 66, emphasis in original). Since then, the changing field of education across the globe – including the entrenchment of neoliberalism, increased competition, and expansion of educational choices – has reinforced the transferal of responsibility for children’s future prospects from the state onto families. Against this background, a major line of inquiry in the sociology of education addresses the contribution of parents’ educational aspirations and strategies to the reproduction of social advantage. Informed by Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital and by Lareau’s studies (2000/1989, 2003) of the class-based capacities of families to align their modes of childrearing with the ethos and requirements of education – in and outside of schools – a large body of research addresses the links between class, education and parenting. Much of this research has been undertaken in North America and Western Europe. A primary aim of this Special Issue is to broaden the scope and to provide a forum for studies of class, education and parenting hailing from a range of cultural contexts and social groups – of particular importance in an era of increasing global movement of families. Moreover, we are curious to see how these studies might invite further theoretical elaboration of the links between class, education and parenting. We are pleased that indeed the papers do extend the scope as they engage with aspects of parents’ work on behalf of their children’s education, as these are elabourated in unique circumstances. In the following, we present the papers as we highlight common, sometimes overlapping, themes. In the final section, we note some general points while indicating possible directions of future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-459
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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