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Children, belonging and social capital: the PTA and middle class narratives of social involvement in the North-West of England

Bagnall, G, Longhurst, BJ and Savage, M 2003, 'Children, belonging and social capital: the PTA and middle class narratives of social involvement in the North-West of England' , Sociological Research Online, 8 (4) .

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Abstract

This paper uses data gathered from an ESRC funded research project on social networks, social capital and lifestyle to provide an account of narratives of belonging and social involvement. Drawing on data from 88 in-depth interviews carried out in the North-West of England between 1997 and 1999, we identify how parental involvement in voluntary organizations connected to their children, such as Parent Teachers Associations (PTA), figures in middle class narratives as a vehicle through which to perform belonging and social involvement. We argue that social involvement through children is presented as a dimension of feeling located in place socially. By using data from two contrasting areas, Wilmslow and Cheadle, we show how this concern to perform locally based parenthood nonetheless leads to very different patterns of engagement. The mobile, middle class in Wilmslow seek to build social capital through the generation of loose social networks based around children and children's education. We suggest that this serves the dual purpose of connecting them to 'like-minded' people and to the educational establishments they value as a means of getting ahead. In Cheadle, the generally less mobile respondents use their more local habitus to generate bonding forms of social capital with tighter social networks based around, kin, residence and leisure that enable them to 'get by'. We argue that the narratives of participation articulated relate to the respondents' degree of embeddedness in the locale, the different place-based habitus of each area and the gendering of family practices. At the heart of many of these narratives, particularly but not exclusively in Wilmslow, are tales about being a 'good' parent and more particularly of being a 'good' mother.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > HQ503 The family. Marriage. Home > HQ0767 Children. Child development
Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > HQ503 The family. Marriage. Home
Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Colleges and Schools > College of Arts & Social Sciences
Colleges and Schools > College of Health & Social Care
Colleges and Schools > College of Health & Social Care > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences > Centre for Social Research
Colleges and Schools > College of Arts & Social Sciences > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Colleges and Schools > College of Health & Social Care > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Sociological Research Online
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 13607804
Depositing User: H Kenna
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2009 16:40
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2014 14:28
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/1487

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