Multiracial Parents and the Intergenerational Transmission of 'Race' and Belonging

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:03 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Miri SONG , School of Social Policy, Sociology, University of Kent, England, Canterbury, United Kingdom
In both popular culture and academic discourses, being 'mixed' is becoming increasingly ordinary in Britain. While there has been growing research on mixed race children and young people, very little is known about how mixed race people racially identify and socialize their own children. Many adult mixed individuals have now become parents - prompting the fascinating question of how they, as parents, think about the racial identification of their own children. Parenthood engenders questions about one's ancestry and the 'right' socialization of children: What may such socialization bode for the future and significance of racial categories and boundaries in Britain? Are mixed race parents adopting post-racial attitudes and practices, or is there evidence of intergenerational transmission of racial thinking and identification in these households? How do parents think about the relationships between 'race' and racial difference, national and regional forms of belonging, and family lineage/ancestry? These questions are pressing, especially in light of recent research which does not necessarily privilege 'race', or which examines the meanings and experiences of 'race' in connection with other axes of identification and experience.

Based on a Leverhulme research grant, this exploratory study investigates the ways in which mixed race parents think about and communicate ideas and practices concerning racial identities and racial difference, and is suggestive of how they foster their children's (and their own) sense of belonging in the wider society. This research draws on interviews with 60 multiracial individuals (parents) in both urban and suburban regions in England. A qualitative approach is crucial in critically examining not only racial categories/terms, but also trends reported about multiracial people in large scale data sets, especially those in the US.