New insights into family learning for refugees: bonding, bridging and building transcultural capital

Hope, Julia. 2011. New insights into family learning for refugees: bonding, bridging and building transcultural capital. Literacy, 45(2), pp. 91-97. [Article]

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For over 20 years, researchers and evaluators worldwide have criticised the traditional formula of family learning courses for their narrow vision, and have emphasised their potential to provide a bridge between home and school experiences, building on resources that parents already have, but which are unknown or unacknowledged. This article argues that research into family learning can usefully be linked to Bourdieu’s theory of ‘symbolic capitals’ to acknowledge the stores of wealth that refugee families may possess, which can be activated in the new environment to create ‘transcultural capital’ – a relatively new concept in the area of migration studies. Putnam’s notions of bonding and bridging capital are also helpful in the design of family learning programmes to consider how best to stimulate social cohesion at the present time. An ethnographic study of a family learning course for refugee parents in two South London schools highlights the need for an understanding of the specific strengths and needs of refugee parents. However, this can only be achieved by taking time to find out about their existing networks, the experience that they bring with them, involving them in course design and delivery, and engaging indiscussion about their plans for the future.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


July 2011Published

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Date Deposited:

05 Mar 2012 11:23

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:32

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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