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Title: Parenting and child development in multi-ethnic Britain : a study of British Indian, British Pakistani and non-immigrant White families living in the UK
Author: Iqbal, Humera
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2012
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Past research has neglected second generation onward immigrant families in Britain as they further acculturate into host society culture, as well as the experiences of majority ethnic-group families in relation to second generation immigrant families. The central focus of this study was an in-depth assessment of the similarities and differences in parenting practices, parent-child relationships, child psychological adjustment and parental social experiences in British-born Indian, Pakistani and non-immigrant White mothers with 5-7 year old children living in culturally diverse areas of the UK. This is the first in-depth comparative study focusing on normative second generation families rather than disadvantaged samples. In total, 90 mothers participated, and the study employed a multi-method approach. A range of measurement techniques including standardised interviews, questionnaires, observations of parent-child interaction and a child test were used. The study was organised according to two aspects of family life. A quantitative approach was used to investigate parenting and child adjustment. A mixed-methods approach, using both quantitative and qualitative analyses was used to examine the broader social environment of the mother and child, exploring family life in relation to surrounding cultural and contextual factors in the three ethnic groups. The children showed positive levels of adjustment, with no differences between groups. In terms of parenting, similarities were found between family types for some aspects of parenting as assessed by interview, including maternal warmth, mother-child interaction and maternal control. The differences that were identified generally reflected differences between the Pakistani and White mothers, with the Indian mothers lying between the two. For example, the British Pakistani group showed higher levels of child supervision, child-centredness, and overt discipline compared to White mothers. They were also more likely to be in an arranged marriage and less likely to confide in their partner. Regarding the observational measure of mother-child interaction, there was no difference between family types for the overall construct of mutuality. In relation to cultural and contextual factors, Pakistani mothers were more religious, compared with Indian and White mothers. Overall, both second generation Indian and Pakistani mothers showed a more bicultural identity. Qualitative analysis revealed that a range of ethnic-racial socialisation techniques for discussing race and ethnicity with children were used by mothers from all groups. Pakistani mothers remained more traditional and were most likely to use religio-cultural socialisation whereas Indian and White mothers used egalitarianism more, i.e. teaching children the importance of individual qualities as opposed to membership in their ethnic group. Indian mothers were the most positive about multiculturalism and seemed to face fewer challenges associated with diversity. Both Pakistani and White mothers experienced discrimination. White mothers felt they were still trying to adapt to increased diversity, some believing that their culture was being sidelined and under threat. It was concluded that there were many similarities in parenting practices and family life between British Indian, British Pakistani and non-immigrant White groups, with children from each group showing positive adjustment. However, although all mothers were born and raised in Britain, differences still existed indicating that ethnicity was an influential factor in parenting. The study increases understanding of the extent to which the parenting processes that have been found to be most significant for positive child development can be generalised to other ethnic groups. It also provides information on acculturation patterns in the host society and what it means to be born to second generation parents and live in a multicultural environment in the UK today. The findings have implications for theory and policy development regarding family life in different ethnic groups.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Laura Ashley Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral