Acquiring a ‘Right' Combination of Capital: Japanese Nouveau Elites' Capital Accumulation Trajectories for Children through International Schooling in Tokyo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 419
Oral Presentation
Hiroki IGARASHI , University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu,, HI
As economic globalization has been proliferated by nation-states’ espousal of neo-liberal agendas, various domains of educational institutions have been internationalized and valorized globally valid forms of cultural competencies, termed ‘global cultural capital’ (GCC). With the rapid changes occurring in the global fields of education and business, many East Asian families and students have pursued GCC through international schooling, overseas education, and/or extra-curricula activities in order to improve and/or secure their status position in the global stratification hierarchy. However, existing research pays little attention to these families’ strategies and trajectories of accumulation of not only GCC but also national cultural capital (NCC) through schooling and extra-curricular activities. By examining school choice patterns of nouveau elite families having enrolled their children in the preschool section of international schools in Tokyo, this paper examines a neglected domain of parental strategies to acquire the ‘right’ combination of GCC and NCC for their children through a series of school choices (e.g. preschool, primary school and secondary school sectors of international or Japanese schools). My findings reveal that Japanese nouveau elites see an embodied form of NCC (e.g. Japanese language and mannerism) as a primary resource to constitute their child’s identity as cosmopolitan Japanese. Therefore, the mothers monitor their child’s language acquisition and strategize to have their children acquire both GCC and NCC, which lead the families to be flexible and spontaneous in their decision-making to enroll their child in oversea schools, local Japanese school or other international schools in Tokyo. I conclude that NCC is still recognized as an important set of competencies for globally-minded elites in the context of Japan and that makes the families’ capital accumulation strategies complex, flexible and stressful.