The Academic Performance Gap between Social Classes and Parenting Practices in Korea

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Shin, Myung Ho
Issue Date
Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
Korean Social Sciences Review(KSSR), Vol.2 No.1, pp. 221-253
Parents’ Socioeconomic Status (SES)Academic PerformanceEducational AspirationsParenting PracticesParadox of Perceived Value of EducationKorea
This study attempts, using qualitative research methods, to identify a series of complex

processes and mechanisms that turn the differences in parents education level and

occupational status into the gaps between their childrens academic achievements. Highly

educated parents with high occupational status are obsessed with top universities while

less educated parents with low occupational status tend to be less interested in educational

capital. Highly educated upper-middle-class parents themselves have strong educational

aspirations. They also try to inspire educational aspirations and academic enthusiasm in

their children through their early and deep involvement in a long-term educational strategy.

They repeatedly teach their children to have aspirations toward higher professional status

as well as a competitive attitude in academic performance. In contrast, the less educated

working-class parents do not emphasize the importance of having a high level of education

and a good educational background to their children.

The differences in the educational aspirations and parenting practices between the two

social classes primarily derive from their varying life experiences in the social structure.

The upper-middle-class interviewees said that their obsession with a good educational

background was closely related to their fear that their children could fall from the middle

class. In contrast to the middle class interviewees, the working-class parents had no memories

of painful experiences related to their lack of higher education. They claimed that they rarely

ever felt inferior and that they rarely regretted their low level of education. In addition, they

did not believe that their lives were more difficult due to their low education.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Center for Social Sciences (사회과학연구원)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Vol.02, No.01/02 (2012)
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