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A labour of love: mothers, emotional capital and homework
journal contributionposted on 2012-03-01, 00:00 authored by Kirsten Hutchison
This paper develops a new analysis of homework by building on feminist scholarship which documents the invisible labour done by women in support of their children's education. While numerous studies have examined the relationship between homework and achievement, little attention has been paid to the largely gendered and potentially stressful nature of ‘parental involvement’. The analytic focus in this paper is on the complex emotional and pedagogical dimensions of homework and the ways it is shaped by socio-cultural contexts. Videotaped homework interactions between one working-class and two middle-class mothers and their children are examined using Bourdieu's concepts of habitus and capital. The analysis distinguishes between productive pedagogical relationships and those that promote extensive anxiety and are counterproductive to learning. The paper argues that the reserves of cultural and emotional capital required for homework completion are significant and that class position does not necessarily guarantee the ways in which these capitals are mobilised.