Date of Degree

9-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor

Erica Chito Childs

Committee Members

Jessie Daniels

Wendy Luttrell

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Sociology | Gender and Sexuality | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology

Keywords

parental engagement, anti-blackness, white racial frame, settler colonialism, teachers, parents

Abstract

In the great scramble to remedy the inequalities of American education, the term “parental engagement” has remained a stubborn fixture in political, educational, and public discourse since the 1960s. Parental engagement has been offered as a possible mitigation tool in the fight for educational justice. This has led to ample social science research exploring the significance and impact of parental engagement on a host of educational outcomes. With much of the sociological theorizing of education stuck in the 1960s, scholars need new ways of theorizing to better understand the role of parental engagement in not alleviating educational inequalities—but in maintaining and (re)producing them. This dissertation sheds light on new ways of thinking through parental engagement by offering the emergent conceptual framework of Anti-Black White Settler Colonialism to explore the interconnected ontological, material, and ideological underpinnings of the social construct that is parental engagement.

This qualitative study deploys semi-structured virtual interviews with 26 parents and 16 teachers across varying New York City elementary and middle schools to unpack how they (re)construct parental engagement at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. This dissertation positions parental engagement as a social construct subject to critical deconstruction with the hope that we can (re)imagine a more equitable way of schooling.

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