‘Concerted Cultivation’ in a Confucian Context: A Study of Volunteer Mothers in Taiwan

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Shiuh-Tarng CHENG, Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, Taiwan
Past research has highlighted the significance of social class and national culture in shaping parental educational beliefs and practices. On the effect of social class, studies conducted by Annette Lareau (2000, 2003) in the U.S. provide an illuminating example of how social class differentiates the cultural logic of parenting. On the other hand, unique characteristics of national culture also exert profound mediating effect on parental and institutionalized educational practices. Through in-depth interviews with volunteer mothers and school administrators from two primary schools in Taiwan, this study explores how the commonly assumed middle-class approach of 'concerted cultivation' conceptualized in the West is practiced in an Eastern context. In addition, the study highlights the significance of Confucianism as an embodied cultural reservoir that shapes how volunteer mothers deal with school authorities, define their involvement, and strategize on educational-related matters. In Taiwan, the high drive to succeed academically—within the context of nationally standardized school curriculums and government funding—presents an intriguing juxtaposition to the conceptualization of ‘home to class’ force in the Western context. The findings reveal several key patterns that interject an important (national) cultural dimension in understanding the link between social class and parental educational beliefs and practices. Despite the similar high educational involvement as revealed in the studies conducted in the West, ways through which Taiwanese volunteer mothers perceive their roles, fulfill their responsibilities, and realize their goals are largely mediated by the immediacy of their cultural environment, which are quite distinctive from their western counterparts. The link between social class and parenting beliefs and practices may be resilient across nations, but distinct characteristics of national cultures mediate such expressions.