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Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement

Narratives of Communal Agency in the Face of Power Asymmetry


Lilian Cibils

Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement is based on the vivid accounts of seven Latina immigrant women of how they learned to navigate the school system in the rural southwest of the United States. Their stories are presented within several contexts, the socio-political conditions of immigration overarching them all. The process of acquiring a new socio-cultural script offers a common frame to the narratives, which illustrate the central role of the community in finding spaces for agency in circumstances of vulnerability. As a contribution to educational theory, this book explores the official discourse of parental involvement within the broader context of social policy by pointing to a common underlying ideal parent norm across areas of policy related to family and women. It also revisits the concept of parental involvement through contrasting ideologies of motherhood, as it applies the concept of participation parity in everyday institutional interactions as a fundamental measure of social justice. Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement offers deep insight into the institutionalized patterns of formal inclusion/informal exclusion in the relationship of schools with Latina immigrant mothers, even within the best intended programs. Its focus on the persistent need for the implementation of culturally and linguistically sensitive approaches to home-school relations makes this a must-read for undergraduate and graduate courses in teacher education, education leadership and sociology of education. Teachers, administrators and policymakers committed to moving away from the prevalent view of mothers as people who mainly need to be educated also need to read this book.

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Chapter 5. Polyphony: Master and Counter Stories




Master and Counter Stories

What we learned, instead is […] that critical stories are always and at once in tension with dominant stories neither fully oppositional nor untouched. (Torre et al., 2001, p. 151)

Critical researchers who do narrative inquiry, especially feminist critical scholars interested in women’s personal stories, have often focused on counter narratives, those which go against the grain of master narratives, and have posed questions such as, “Under what conditions do women develop ‘counternarratives’ as they narrate their lives?” (Chase, 2005, p. 655). In the last decades, this line of research has tended to shift away from solely identifying the clear-­cut distinction between the established master narratives and their counter narratives, and has started to focus on exposing the subtleties of power dynamics manifested in the internal tensions within an individual’s story. The prior expectation of unequivocally finding a sharp separation between the counter and master stories is now called into question. Instead, closer observation of the collaborative process of an interview is now seen to reveal the coexistence of master and counter narratives in the participant’s story in an oscillation between complicity and countering (Bamberg, 2004, p. 353). A study by Andrews (2004) illustrates this apparent inner conflict within a narrative through the analysis of the stories of individuals’ early memories of their mother and their interpretation of their mother’s long-­term influence on←79 | 80→ their lives. Andrews observes the tensions within each story as...

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