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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.