Life Strategies of Families in Marginalised Urban Neighbourhoods: Dealing with Social and Educational Inequalities

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Christine RIEGEL , Of Educational Sciences, University of Education Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
Lalitha CHAMAKALAYIL , Of Educational Science, University of Education Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
Migration families often face challenges in Europe: unemployment issues, low income and the threat of poverty as well as an unequal education system, where children and young people are disadvantaged and consequently; their access to higher education and job perspectives is limited, hindering their chances and opportunities with regard to participation in society. These families frequently live in urban areas strongly influenced by migration movements and faced with processes of marginalization.

In our research project (within the framework of a larger, European research project), we focus on life strategies of families in marginalized urban neighbourhoods in Germany. Migration is frequently a family project, and family an important resource in dealing with educational, job-related and social challenges. In our theoretical approach, family members are seen as actively dealing and negotiating with societal circumstances and social meanings (Wacquant 2006). Their strategies are analyzed, taking relevant explanation contexts into consideration, which shape each person’s scope of possibilities (Holzkamp 1983). Our research project aims to transcend beyond the deficit-oriented perspective without neglecting the social and societal challenges families have to deal with (Riegel/Yildiz 2011).

In this paper we will present analyses from biographical interviews, group discussions, and ethnographic data, on how family members describe and interpret educational pathways and which life strategies can be observed. We analyze biographical meanings and dynamics within a family and with regard to experiences centered on education, an area accentuated by the intersections of migration, class, gender and generation. First findings show that family members develop strategies and creative pathways to deal with challenges posed by everyday racism and the education system, using unconventional ways to negotiate solutions for structural challenges, demanding participation and inclusion. The ambivalences of these strategies - dealing with processes of inclusion and exclusion – within circumstances of social inequality will be discussed.