Inequalities and Discrimination in the Making of Families – Thursday, September 23rd – 13:45

Wealth, Racism and white Privilege. Racialized discursive practices of ‘doing family’ in parent-teacher talks in Swiss kindergarten – Sieber-Egger/Unterweger (Zurich/SUI)

Doing Loyalty, Doing Voice, Doing Exit–An intersectional perspective on single mothers* and their everyday strategies – Hahmann/Hunner-Kreisel (Vechta/GER)

Doing Family in and with Early Childhood Education and Care Centers. A social inequality perspective – Betz/Bischoff-Pabst (Mainz/GER)


Wealth, Racism and white Privilege. Racialized discursive practices of ‘doing family’ in parent-teacher talks in Swiss kindergarten – Sieber-Egger, Anja / Unterweger, Gisela (Zurich/SUI)

As known from many studies (i.a. Betz et al. 2017, Egger et al. 2016), parent-teacher talks are an important element of the school-family relationship, besides many everyday opportunities for informal interactions between parents and teachers. The formalized parent-teacher talks in Swiss Kindergarten officially serve as a form of report-card talk, since there are no written grades. In these talks, usually being conducted once a year, kindergarten teachers are summarizing their observations and assessments of the kindergarten pupil regarding his or her current development and competencies. Parents on the other hand are expected to react and comment from their perspective on the teacher observations. This objectifying and evaluative set-up is embedded in – and can’t be separated from – discursive productions of the ‘good family’ and ‘good childhood’ (Bühler-Niederberger 2013), in which heteronormative, racialized, middle-class oriented orders of meaning and difference (Chamakalayil et al. 2018) are powerfully enacted, but also contested.

In our presentation we analyze two parent-teacher talk situations stemming from along-term ethnography in three Swiss kindergartens. On the basis of theoretical considerations on critical whiteness* (McIntosh 1990, Sullivan 2006), we will shed light on the entanglement of racialized discursive productions with the parental struggles for interpretative sovereignty in the representation of the ‘good family’. The representations in focus will make it possible to discuss hidden processes of a culturally dominant societal structure at work that (re-)produces privileges attached to being considered as white* or Swiss in everyday life in kindergarten.

The two situations of interest took place in a kindergarten located in an affluent neighborhood, and both of the presented families are positioned favorably when it comes to dominant norms: They are well off and well educated, with all four parents working in prestigious professions. Both families present themselves as engaging heavily in educational efforts, with the children pursuing quite a number of leisure activities. Their family forms correspond with the dominant heteronormative matrix. But while one’s family positioning as being Swiss is undisputed, the mother of the other family, having immigrated from Russia as a young woman, is constructed as ‘culturally other’ (Spivak 1985). This positioning intersects with class positioning when the teachers problematize the family as being overly ambitious and thus problematic for the child. The ‘Russian’ mother is forced to position herself in this struggle for interpretation of their family life, performing a ‘doing good Swiss family’ with which she seeks to achieve an interpretational accordance with the teacher, while fending off essentializing and culturalizing positionings. The ‘Swiss’ family, on the other hand, is confronted with no such challenge, quite the contrary. They enjoy the privilege of a favorable unmarked normality of whiteness*. The privilege is expressed with benevolent interpretations and with a general goodwill towards and even admiration of the family life displayed in the parent-teacher talk. The different social positionings results in a struggle for recognition: families marked as others have to be much more concerned about their reputationthan Swiss families.

* The term white and whiteness mark a structural moment of a symbolic order (Tissberger 2017, 16)


Betz, Tanja, Stefanie Bischoff, Nicoletta Eunicke, Laura B. Kayser, und Katharina Zink. 2017. Partner auf Augenhöhe? Forschungsbefunde zur Zusammenarbeit von Familien, Kitas und Schulen mit Blick auf Bildungschancen. Gütersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Bühler-Niederberger, Doris. 2013. «Aufwachsen heute –Kinder und ihre Lebenswelten». In 4-bis 12-Jährige. Ihre schulischen und ausserschulischen Lern-und Lebenswelten, herausgegeben von Evelyne Wannack, Susanne Bosshart, Astrid Eichenberger, Michael Fuchs, Elisabeth Hardegger, und Simone Marti, 17–31. Münster: Waxmann.

Chamakalayil, Lalitha, Christine Riegel, und Safiye Yıldız. 2018. «Bildung und (Erwerbs-)Arbeit in der Migrationsgesellschaft -widersprüchliche Voraussetzungen für Familien mit Migrationsgeschichte». In Lebens Wege Strategien. Familiale Aushandlungsprozesse in der Migrationsgesellschaft, herausgegeben von Christine Riegel, Barbara Stauber, und Erol Yıldız, 52–70. Opladen, Berlin, Toronto: Barbara Budrich.

Egger, Jan, Jürgen Lehmann, und Martin Straumann. 2016. «Die Praxis von Lehrpersonen mit Eltern. Eine Analyse der Deutungs-und Praxismuster.» In Eltern. Lehrer. Schüler. Theoretische und empirische Betrachtungen zum Verhältnis von Elternhaus und Schule sowie zu schulischen Kommunikationsformen, herausgegeben von Claudia Knapp und Marina Bonanati, 47–59. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.

McIntosh, Peggy. 1990. «White Privilege. Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack». Independent School49 (2).

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 1985. «The Rani of Sirmur. An Essay in Reading the Archives». History and Theory 24 (3): 247–72.

Sullivan, Shannon. 2006. Revealing whiteness: the unconscious habits of racial privilege. American philosophy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Tissberger, Martina. 2017. Critical Whiteness: Zur Psychologie Hegemonialer Selbstreflexion an Der Intersektion von Rassismus Und Gender. Springer VS Research. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Doing Loyalty, Doing Voice, Doing Exit–An intersectional perspective on single mothers* and their everyday strategies – Hahmann, Julia / Hunner-Kreisel, Christine (Vechta/GER)

The pandemic triggered by Sars-coV-2 has focused and amplified existing deficits in the “crisis of care“, especially for single mothers under precarious living conditions (Fraser 2016; Hahmann/Hunner-Kreisel 2020). With Winker (2013), we see the position of single mothers in the structure of the welfare state as a revelation of the political significance attributed to questions of justice and inequality in heteronormative gender relations, often increased by classist and racist circumstances. These social conditions of inequality structure the social practices of Doing Family of single mothers (Helfferich 2017; Jurczyk et al. 2014). We argue, that among single mothers agency to deal with everyday challenges arising from structures of inequalities is distributed unevenly. Our notion of agency is based on earlier work by Hirschman (1970) who suggested three basic strategies of dealing with challenges, namely everyday strategies of loyalty, voice or exit: “He or she should be able to choose between either loyalty to the collective prescriptions or norms, or voice in order to contest or negotiate the content of such prescriptions without being subject to heavy sanctions, or exit so as to be able to escape these collective norms at an affordable cost” (Bonvin 2012: 12).

In our presentation, we show along empirical data how everyday strategies of loyalty, voice and exit are related to social positions using the methodology of intersectional, praxeological multilevel analysis suggested by Winker and Degele (2011). This approach reconstructs the juxtaposition of subject constructions, symbolic representations, and structural categories (Ganz/Hausotter 2020) and thus also allows us to visualise how individual concepts of everyday strategies evolve in different contexts (Hunner-Kreisel & März 2018). We wish to examine 1) to what extent everyday practices of Doing Family reflect “loyalty”, “voice”, or “exit”, and 2) whether single mothers recognize such options and can choose among them. In the relevant literature and our own preliminary work (Hunner-Kreisel/Steinbeck 2018), we see strategies of “loyalty“ and “voice”. We find „loyalty“ strategies that affirm heteronormative and capitalist structures, for instance when single mothers privilege children’s well-being over their own needs and thus adhere to the “good mother“ narrative, while also working full-time (Diabaté 2000). We find “voice” strategies when single mothers describe precarious living conditions, incompatible demands on their time and responsibility, and the lack of a serious political debate on the problems of single mothers (and fathers), in particular during the pandemic ( Exit strategies might be limited to Doing Family and care practices beyond traditional, heteronormative conceptions of living (Hahmann 2017; 2021). Following the political agenda of the intersectional approach, we want to discuss the necessity of increasing political visibility of everyday challenges of single mothers, especially of those being marginalized in multiple ways as we consider the question of how to enable a “capability for voice“ in the sense of socio-political empowerment an important issue for Social Work (Bonvin 2012: 11).

Doing Family in and with Early Childhood Education and Care Centers. A social inequality perspective – Betz, Tanja / Bischoff-Pabst, Stefanie (Mainz/GER)

Parental involvement is “one of the major narratives in educational reform” (Devlieghere et al. 2020, p. 7) in different welfare states. Along with this narrative, there are calls, nationally and internationally, for educational partnerships between the family and ECEC centers especially when it comes to tackling social inequalities and establishing equality of educational opportunities (Betz et al. 2017). However, the “overlap“ (Budde & Bittner 2017, S. 226, translated T.B./S.B.-P.) between the family and ECEC is still seen as a gap in research especially when it comes to a better understanding of the reproduction of social inequalities. The joint project “Strong Partnerships in Early Childhood Education and Care” which is conducted at Johannes Gutenberg University and the University of Trier starts here. Knowing that there are family like arrangements of education in ECEC centers (Nelson & Schutz 2007) which are seen as a relevant cause for the reproduction of social inequality within the ECEC system, we are more fundamentally interested in various practices of doing family in and with ECEC. Referring to the doing family approach (Jurczyk, Lange & Thiessen 2014), we ask how professionals and parents negotiate and shape the relationship between ECEC organizations and the family, e.g. in parent-teacher meetings. To what extent do attributions of responsibility and differentiations become relevant in such processes, especially when it comes to socially disadvantaged families or families with migration status. For the analysis, firstly, doing family is not just be understood as accomplished by family members in more or less private spaces, but also in and also with ECEC organizations. Secondly, doing family is specified as doing education (‘Erziehung’) where both, family members and professionals could be involved. This focus is of particular interest from a nine quality perspective. We are interested in how professionals and parents refer to themselves or to ‘other‘ parents in accordance with well-known lines of difference like (German) language (Betz et al. 2019) but also references cross to it like a fundamental distrust concerning parenting practices (Großkopf & Winkler 2015) and the ‘proper’ involvement of parents. In the paper theoretical reflections, sensitizing concepts and results based on data from parent-teacher meetings (N=10) and some contrasting qualitative interviews with parents and professionals from ECEC centers in different social are as conducted between 2016 and 2020 will be presented and discussed.


Betz, T., Bischoff, S. Eunicke, N., Kayser, L. B.& Zink, K. (2017). Partner auf Augenhöhe? Forschungsbefunde zur Zusammenarbeit von Familien, Kitas und Schulen mit Blick auf Bildungschancen. Gütersloh.

Betz, T., Bischoff-Pabst, S., Eunicke, N. & Menzel, B. (2019). Kinder zwischen Chancen und Barrieren. Zusammenarbeit zwischen Kita und Familie: Perspektiven und Herausforderungen. Forschungsbericht 1. Gütersloh DOI 10.11586/2019043

Budde, J. & Bittner, M. (2018). Praktiken der Differenz in der Schnittmenge von Schule und Familie. In: Thon, C., Menz, M., Mai, M. & Abdessadok, L. (Hrsg.), Kindheiten zwischen Familie und Kindertagesstätte. Wiesbaden. DOI 10.1007/978-3-658-19451-2_13

Devlieghere, J. Li, Y. & Vandenbroeck, M. (2020). Beyond the veil of parents: deconstructing the concept of parental involvement in early childhood education and care. Early Years, DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2020.1840526

Großkopf, S. & Winkler, M. (2015). Das neue Misstrauen gegenüber der Familie. Kritische Reflexionen. Würzburg.

Jurczyk, K., Lange, A. & Thiessen, B. (2014). Doing family. Warum Familienleben heute nicht mehr selbstverständlich ist. Weinheim.

Nelson, M. K. & Schutz, R. (2007). Day Care Differences and the Reproduction of Social Class. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography DOI: 10.1177/0891241606293137