Family language policy of internal migrating middle-class families in China

Year: 2021

Author: Gao, Danwei

Type of paper: Individual Paper

In this paper, existing Boudieusian theorisations is extended by adding the under-researched dimensions of migration status and the middle-classness of families in China to understandings of family language policy (hereafter, FLP). FLP refers to families’ thinking and explicit and implicit decisions about language and literacy and how they implement and manage those beliefs in practice. The paper focuses on internal migrant middle class families who moved as ‘réncái’ (talented human resources) within China. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in Guangdong, China, with both husbands and wives in the focal family.The paper seeks to examines the shaping of the parents’ habitus and their exertion of capital in enacting FLPs in three families. It first identifies the FLP patterns in those families in parental beliefs, as well as the sense of responsibility and planning parents felt concerning their child’s development. Further, it explores the practices and strategies through which the parents engaged in FLP. The findings show that the parents’ habituses are shaped by the intersection of four aspects. One, resulting from their well-educated background, leads them a proactive role in their children’s education. A second,  arising from their workplace expertise, sees them bring part of their working habitus to parental habitus in terms of FLP. A third, stemming from middle class status, relates to the high diversity of FLP patterns that count as ‘competent’ parenting for the participants. A fourth concerns the lack of influence of migration status on FLP of this group of réncái parents.