Raising a international child: Parenting, class and social boundaries in Taiwan
MetadataShow full item record
Cultural capital has become a crucial concept in social theories and research that look at children’s participation in the arts and intergenerational social mobility in Western societies. A. Lareau and P. DiMaggio both employed Bourdieu’s "distinction" approach to childhood inequality: the former derives from Melvin Kohn’s theory on child-rearing values and treats art participation as part of the middle class "concerted cultivation" pattern; while the latter pinpoints children’s art activities as a form of status culture participation. However, there have been few studies on how cultural capital is transferred intergenerationally via the socialization of children in East Asian societies. With lowest fertility rate in the world at 2009, the rapid economic development in the past, and the traditional patriarchal family system, Taiwan is a unique case to understand class structure and child-rearing. In a two-stage design, this study uses a survey (N=379) of parents of adolescents in two public elementary schools to examine the relationship between social class and cultural capital, then conducts follow-up interviews with family members (N=72) to examine class and family structure variations in the cultural toolbox of child-rearing in metropolitan Taiwan. Building on Lareau’s finding among American families, I find three fields of child-rearing: Educational achievement, talent development and the western cultural capital. These fields are closely related to parental class position in a univore-omnivore spectrum. All families emphasized core-value on academic success; the middle class and upper class families focused on talent development; and the upper class families emphasized "being international." In addition, I find that in Taiwan parenting should be understood in the context of three generation families. Combining the concepts of "doing family" and "intensive mothering" with "concerted cultivation", this dissertation demonstrate the Taiwanese mothers’ dilemma of simultaneously performing both the ideal mother role and compliant daughter-in-law. Grandparents sometimes have veto power over mothers, and mothers must develop strategies to circumvent the child-rearing agendas of their mother-in-law. These findings link Taiwanese family culture to local history and challenge the theories of cultural capital and social inequality regarding the role symbolic boundaries in the cultivation of children in urban Taiwan.