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Farmhands and Factory Workers, Honesty and Humility: The Portrayal of Social Class and Morals in English Language Learner Childrenís Books


by Joelle Sano ó 2009

Background/Context: Although much research has evaluated childrenís books for depictions of gender, little has centered on the portrayal of immigrants and social class. This investigation utilizes Bourdieuís theory of capital reproduction in education, Durkheimís conception of collective conscience and morals, and Bowles and Gintisís critique of schooling to evaluate these depictions and to investigate the functions of English language learner (ELL) education.

Focus of Study: This analysis investigates the representation of immigrants and class in childrenís books read aloud in ELL classrooms.

Research Design:Using lists provided by a leading school of education, the investigation uses a content analysis of 50 books often read aloud to ELL students based on five economic and cultural capital indicators. Additionally, the research included a content analysis of the morals presented by these books and by the past 20 Caldecott Medal-winning books.

Findings: Findings suggest strong differences in class portrayals and morals between ELL classroom and Caldecott Medal-winning books. Additionally, the evidence shows that the ELL books portray various ethnic immigrant groups differently, often supporting popular stereotypes about these ethnicities.

Conclusions and Recommendations: The study provides possible implications of the findings on the educational and career aspirations of ELL students and suggests that future researchers focus on participant-observation to expand these findings.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 11, 2009, p. 2560-2588
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15441, Date Accessed: 10/17/2017 10:03:44 PM

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About the Author
  • Joelle Sano
    Boston College
    E-mail Author
    JOELLE SANO is a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and an adjunct professor in the Sociology Department at Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Her current research areas include sociology of education, social stratification, and labor movements. Her forthcoming dissertation focuses on lay teachersí unions in Catholic secondary schools.
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