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Would it really matter? The democratic and caring deficit in ‘parental involvement’

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Van Laerea, K., Van Houtteband, M. & Vandenbroeck, M.
Publication Date: 
31 Jan 2018



The discourse on parental involvement as a means to increase theeducational attainment of underprivileged children has gainedground in the scholarly and policy field of preschool education.Nevertheless, this discourse is characterised by a‘democraticdeficit’in which parents themselves are rarely involved indetermining goals and modalities of parental involvement insociological and educational studies (Tronto, J. C. 2013.CaringDemocracy: Markets, Equality, and Justice. New York: New YorkUniversity Press). Ten video-elicited focus groups with migrant parents were organised in the Flemish community of Belgium inorder to explore their meaning-making of preschool education and the parent-school relationship. The qualitative data suggest a perceived lack of attention for the care dimension in education. While parents are eager to know more about preschool, they cannot always express this eagerness. Based on these results, we recommend that preschool policies, practices, and research should consider communicative spaces for parents, professionals, and researchers in which multiple, yet opposing, meanings can be discussed.