Homeschooling as Reflexive Modernity

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Title: Homeschooling as Reflexive Modernity
Author: Kennedy, Earl
Advisors: Martha Crowley, Committee Chair
L. Richard Della Fave, Committee Member
Jeffrey Leiter, Committee Member
Abstract: Although still a substantial minority, there now exists a sizable and growing population of parents in the United States making the decision to educate their children themselves, in their own homes. Curiosity, skepticism and often misperceptions abound about this group of people. Scholarly inquiries into the world of homeschooling have tended to focus on parental motivations to homeschool, characteristics of homeschoolers, homeschooling methods and homeschooling outcomes, usually measured by standardized test scores. Perhaps the largest body of research has sought to sort and classify homeschoolers according to various typologies. Research to date has shed a great deal of light on what appears to many a somewhat shadowy niche of American society. While helpful, many of these studies are severely limited and have sometimes produced, I will argue, misleading results. Using in-depth qualitative interviews with homeschooling families in North Carolina, I explore some of these issues. I will argue that none of the various homeschooling typologies work when compared to the lived experiences of actual homeschooling families. I suggest that a concentration on what homeschoolers have in common is more useful than attempts to subdivide and force them into ill-fitting typologies. I explore the connections between sociological theories of modernization and homeschooling. Specifically, I adapt and expand theories of reflexive modernity and argue that homeschoolers are best understood as social innovators at the micro-level through a practiced reflexive-modernization. I conclude with a discussion of the implications of designating homeschoolers as ‘reflexively modern’.
Date: 2008-10-22
Degree: MS
Discipline: Sociology

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