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“I Expect My Son to Grow as a Dragon and My Daughter as a Phoenix”: A Qualitative Study of Chinese Migrant Workers’ High Educational Expectations for Children

Title“I Expect My Son to Grow as a Dragon and My Daughter as a Phoenix”: A Qualitative Study of Chinese Migrant Workers’ High Educational Expectations for Children
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsWang Y, Cheng C, Lu Y
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Volume11
Issue1
Pagination240-258
Date Published02/2019
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
KeywordsChina, educational expectations, Migrant workers, Qualitative method
Abstract

Since the economic reform of the 1970s, many internal Chinese migrants have streamed into cities in search of better educational resources for their school-aged children. Extant literature has reached a consensus that despite barriers to social integration, (im)migrant parents have high expectations for their children’s education. However, earlier studies have largely depicted a static picture of (im)migrant parents’ great ambitions for their children’s educational attainment, without examining the underlying reasons for these dynamics. Using data from in-depth interviews with 20 migrant workers, this paper attempts to investigate the specific mechanisms that underlie Chinese migrant worker parents’ high aspirations for their children’s schooling. Three types of motivation are found, including “getting a good job” and “having a nice marriage” for their children, and “providing old-age support” for parents. No matter which mechanism plays out at the forefront, academic achievement is regarded as shortcut to social and economic mobility, rather than as a key means of personal fulfillment. The utilitarianism has emerged as a dominant ideology that guides migrant workers parents’ attitudes toward education. Their high goals for their children’s educational futures has worked as a response to difficulties in acculturation in cities. Implications for programmatic initiatives and research are delineated.

URLhttp://ijse.padovauniversitypress.it/2019/1/12
DOI10.14658/pupj-ijse-2019-1-12