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'Making up' the middle-class child: families, activities and class dispositions

By Carol Vincent and Stephen Ball


In this paper we draw on data collected from a recent qualitative project to highlight the enthusiasm of middle class parents for enrolling their under-5s in ‘enrichment’ activities (extra-curricular creative and sporting classes). We seek to identify the part activities play in parental strategies for class reproduction. We first consider the broader issue of children and consumption, drawing out the way in which consumption and leisure activities are highly classed, and focusing on notions of taste and distinction. Then using examples from the data, we emphasise the sense of urgency and responsibility parents felt concerning their child’s development and the classed and gendered involvement of parents. We conclude that enrichment activities are one response to the anxiety and sense of responsibility experienced by middle class parents as they attempt to ‘make up’ a middle class child in a social context where reproduction appears uncertain

Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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