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Parents, individualism and education: three paradigms and four countries

Fevre, Ralph, Guimarães, Isabel and Zhao, Wei 2020. Parents, individualism and education: three paradigms and four countries. Review of Education 8 (3) , pp. 693-726. 10.1002/rev3.3204

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The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) is an important indicator of the increased global importance of education. It defines the goal of education at the level of the child rather than the state, the community or household. The requirement that each child be treated as an individual who can expect to see their ‘personality, talents and mental and physical abilities’ fully developed, is an example of the individualism which features in three important theoretical paradigms for understanding the rise of education and training. We compare accounts of the global growth of education produced by functionalism, neoinstitutionalism and political economy with the help of qualitative research on children’s experience of parental influences. The research is drawn from semi‐structured interviews with millennial graduates in Portugal, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It reveals weaknesses in the paradigms which are related to the way each theorises individualism and the role it plays in parental influence on education. The functionalist and neoinstitutionalist conceptions of individualism limit the usefulness of these paradigms for understanding changes in the way families around the world prepare children for education. The political economy paradigm is more promising; however, an approach which identifies only one, neoliberal, version of individualism has limited purchase on international differences in parental influences and the way these influences are changing. An approach which can draw on the contrast between a cognitive individualism associated with neoliberalism, and sentimental individualism which originates in social movements, is more promising.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 2049-6613
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 July 2020
Date of Acceptance: 1 April 2020
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2021 11:55

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