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Title: Parents' social representations of their children's schooling : the case of Albanian non-emigrants, emigrants and returned emigrants
Author: Canollari, Albana
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2012
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This study examined the impact of socio-cultural change on Albanian parents' social representations of their children's schooling. Psychological research on the ways that parents mediate their children’s learning and development in situations of societal change is still scarce, yet understanding parents’ social representations is of crucial importance as they play a key role in their children’s education. Drawing on cultural psychological approaches of Bronfenbrenner, Vygotsky and Moscovici, individual learning and development involves the consideration of mutual relationships between micro and macro socio-cultural settings, which co-constructs psychological development. Previous research examining parents' representations of their children's schooling in situations of educational change revealed the influence of past experiences to make sense of the current schooling of their children (O'Toole & Abreu, 2005). The current study will go a step further as the educational changes experienced by Albanian parents involved both a radical change on schooling practices, but also a radical macro-political change. To gain in-depth insight into these relationships three macro-settings that expose Albanian parents to changes in educational practices were investigated. The first setting involved the impact of changes due to political and social change in the Albanian education system. The second setting involved changes due to migration to foreign country, and the third involved changes due to returning to the home country (i.e. Albania). Data was collected using narrative-episodic interviews (Flick, 2006). The empirical work with emigrants was conducted in the United Kingdom and with the non-emigrants and returned emigrants in Albania. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was utilized to examine the transcribed data from the individual interviews. The key findings of this study shed light on three key aspects of parents’ social representations: First, the means parents used to talk about education differed based on their cultural experiences. Due to their scope of experiences, parents’ social representations were partially similar and different. Their previous experience with education was compared to present situation to make sense of their views. Non-emigrant parents compared Now, the transition after the fall and the time they were in school (during Communism). Emigrant parents compared Now Abroad, to the present Albanian education system by observing at distance, prior to migration and their schooling during communism. Returned emigrant parents gave meaning to their situation Now in Albania by comparing their experience with education abroad, prior to migration and during communism. Second, the analysis showed that these comparisons were expressed in parents´ accounts of school practices and behaviours revealing underlying constructions of their children and children as learners. Parents' comparisons focused on the school systems, teachers, roles, relationships and children's projected future, revealing constructions of children as learners that changed over time. At time, their constructions overlapped with parents' own constructions and at other times constructions were different. Third, this study contributes to a better understanding of how social representations act as mediators in parents' understanding of children's schooling showing that they evolve according to specific experiences. As parents evolve and change so do their views of what is good schooling.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available