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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 10. Immigration as a Gendered Experience: The Crucial Resource of Physical Mobility



Immigration as a Gendered Experience

The Crucial Resource of Physical Mobility

Gender is one of the fundamental social relations anchoring and shaping immigration patterns, and immigration is one of the most powerful forces disrupting and realigning everyday life. (Hondagneu-­Sotelo, 2003, p. 3)

In its complexity, immigration may involve the traumatic experience of loss and simultaneously carry an opportunity for transformation. The event of moving to a different country does not only affect the individual but often causes changes in the family structure (Hondagneu-­Sotelo, 1994; C. Suárez-­Orozco, 2000, p. 197). In their resettlement in a society different from that of their country of origin, members of a family often find their social roles to be shifting both within the family and in the outside world. The perception of this experience and the coping strategies used may differ according to the circumstances of migration and, especially, by gender (Ainslie, 1998). Immigration must be understood as a gendered experience, since in many cases “immigrant women occupy a particular and different location in society to immigrant men” (Norton, 2013, p. 52).

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