Accepted Paper:

Other people's children: dealing with diversity in multi-ethnic and class differentiated schools in Norway  

Authors:

Synnøve Bendixsen (University of Bergen)
Hilde Danielsen (Rokkan Centre )

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how parents in a multi-ethnic and class differentiated borough in Norway are dealing with diversity and in so doing take part in creating parenting cultures.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines how parents in a multi-ethnic and class differentiated borough in Norway are dealing with diversity and in so doing take part in creating parenting cultures. The parents' engagement takes place in the context of the Norwegian welfare state with growing expectations of parent's school involvement.

We base our analysis on fieldwork pursued at two elementary schools in a socially differentiated area in Bergen, Norway's second largest city. The area caters to social-housing clientele, highly skilled laborers and a growing number of migrants. It is defined as problematic by the municipality and receives targeted governmental social and economic resources. Ethnic diversity is a recent social phenomenon here and how to deal with it is currently enfolding. In the paper, we discuss how being a parent is constructed and played out at two places: Parents' Council Working Committees and through school practices. How are diversity imagined, talked about and played out at parent's meetings and how are parents dealing with that diversity? What parenting cultures are promoted and produced through these discussions and practices? On the other hand, how are the schools dealing with diversity? What is the role of the school in producing specific kind of parenting ideals and norms? We suggest how diversity is fronted as a social value, and how parents negotiate the kind of diversity that should be encouraged or prevented. This is pursued partly in order to limit the potential risks that diversity and difference could represent for the pupils, the school and neighborhood.

Panel P115
Raising Europe: managing parents and the production of good citizens