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Author(s): Hart, Rona
Date: 2004
Abstract: This ethnographic study delineates the experiences of immigrant families
living in London as they engage with local schools. The findings chapters of
the dissertation explore issues of access, by following the parents as they
enter London's educational marketplace and as they choose a school for
their children. The study portrays the process of educational choice from
their perspective as newcomers, highlighting their positioning in the
educational marketplace and the significance of their skills and resources as
educational consumers.
The findings reveal eight types of capitals that these families draw on as
they engage with the education market. These are: cultural properties, social
resources, identities, symbolic assets, psychological empowerment,
cognitive capacities, economic means and statutory positioning. The
analyses highlight the development that occurred in the choosers'
consumerist skills over time, suggesting that there may be a way to
empower disadvantaged choosers to obtain improved positions as
educational consumers.
A central theme in this study is the occurrence of a communal pattern of
schooling among this group of families. Searching for the factors that
occasion segregation in education, the focus of the research shifted to
explore the role of the choosers' networks. The findings suggest that by
using various control mechanisms, these networks engendered a continual
pattern of schooling resulting in segregation and closure.
'Choosing schools - choosing idenbties' stands for the main argument of this
study which states that the choice of school, as an act of consumerism,
represents the choosers' collective identities, and at the same time plays a
significant role in reinventing these identities.