(Dis)Empowering Migrant Parents in Nordic Education and Social Work

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftAbstraktForskningpeer review


Internationally, the Nordic welfare states are renowned for their universalistic approaches to social rights and equal and free access to education and social services (Esping-Andersen 1990). However, this state benevolence comes with an ambiguous paternalism that seeks not only to educate children as future productive and active citizens, but also intervenes into parenting practices that are deemed inappropriate or counterproductive to pedagogical projects in education or social work (Moqvist 2003). According to Dahlstedt and Lozic, “[t]he formation of citizens is not only about fostering children to become certain kinds of subjects, it is also about enabling parents to raise their children in a ‘desired’ direction, i.e. they also need to be fostered as parents” (2017: 211). Interventions in parenting practices take shape in a professional complex of guidance, responsibilization, and normalization. Concurrently, such disciplining interventions have been woven into a tremendous democratization of the relationship between parents and educational institutions and social services since the 1970s (Bouakaz 2009; Dean & Villadsen 2016), e.g. appearing as dialogical approaches and partnerships. This political and professional attention paid to parents and parenting in relation to their children’s education seems to gain a more radical dimension in the case of migrant parents (Berg and Peltola 2015; Padovan-Özdemir and Moldenhawer 2016). Ever since the arrival of the first non-Western labour immigrants and refugees in the late 1960s, social and political rights have been increasingly premised on national sentiments of perceived cultural values and practices (Jöhncke 2011). This makes it harder for migrant parents to achieve recognition and full participation in so-called democratic partnerships and collaboration with educators and social workers, causing educators to sometimes morally condemn migrant parents as disengaged in their children’s education and, migrant parents experiencing inadequacy and impotence (Bouakaz 2009). Lately, the so-called refugee crisis has once again ignited political as well as professional debate about the integration of children with a migrant background – calling refugee parents’ parenting skills into question, especially in the case of parents who are not granted asylum but refuse or are unable to leave the country. Nevertheless, recent research seems to pave the way for more inclusive and democratic forms of collaboration with migrant parents in education and social work. According to Erel, Reynolds & Kaptani, an empowering potential can be found in approaching migrant parents’ “cultural work and their caring work, both within their families and in wider society” (2018: 69) as a way of practicing active citizenship, which can be used in democratic spaces of inclusive collaboration. This symposium has a threefold ambition. One, to explore and discuss critical and comparative perspectives on how Nordic welfare state regimes of education and social work address migrant parents and intervene in their parenting practices. Two, to provide new and more nuanced representations of migrant parents and their parenting practices and engagement in relation to their children’s education as sites of political struggle. Three, to pursue new and meaningful forms of democratic collaboration with migrant parents in Nordic education and social work.
StatusUdgivet - 2019
BegivenhedEuropean Research Network About Parents in Education: Parent Engagement as Power: Empowering Children, Schools and Societies ERNAPE – 2019 - University of Gdańsk, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Education, and the Foundation for the Development of the University of Gdańsk, GDAŃSK, Polen
Varighed: 18 sep. 201920 sep. 2019


KonferenceEuropean Research Network About Parents in Education
LokationUniversity of Gdańsk, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Education, and the Foundation for the Development of the University of Gdańsk


  • Læring, pædagogik og undervisning