Aurini, Janice; & Davies, Scott. (2005). Choice without markets: Homeschooling in the context of private education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 26(4), 461-474. (Provides an insightful, balanced, and fairly accurate portrayal of the homeschool community and its history and motivations. “Abstract: Homeschooling is enjoying new‐found acceptance in North America. Drawing on a variety of secondary sources and our own data from Ontario, Canada, we find that homeschooling is growing steadily, and is becoming an increasingly legitimated form of education. To understand these changes, we review prevailing sociological explanations that focus on the rise of neo‐liberal ideology, and pressures of class reproduction and human capital requirements. We document the contributions of these theories and note their limits for understanding the rising popularity of homeschooling. We then situate homeschooling within a broader context of private education, distinguishing segments that encourage market‐consumer, class reproduction, human capital and ‘expressive’ logics. The combination of large investments of time and effort with highly uncertain outcomes makes homeschooling the most expressive form of private education, which we trace to the burgeoning culture of ‘intensive parenting.’” “Many forms of private education are growing in Canada, including private schools, tutoring businesses, preschool, vocational colleges and homeschooling. As an aggregate, they are very diverse-attracting clients that span social strata and levels of schooling, with motives ranging from religious to consumerist to elitist to expressive. This multi-faceted nature is not readily accommodated by any one all-encompassing market-consumer, class reproduction or human capital theory. Within this context, homeschooling is growing and enjoying a new-found legitimacy in North America. As homeschooling diversifies, newer recruits tend to be closer to the cultural mainstream, seeking individualized attention for their children, reflecting the culture of intensive parenting. Unlike other private alternatives, it is animated less by logics of market calculation, class reproduction, or human capital than by an expressive logic. Any theoretical explanation of homeschooling must recognize its loose connection to instrumental goals like financial payoff or skill enhancement, and look to its multiple and diffuse aims. Homeschooling thus represents a choice without markets. Homeschoolers strongly assert their right to choose yet do not espouse a market ideology, since for many both bureaucracies and markets can potentially threaten the sanctity of their families. Rather than championing educational competition and rigor, many desire a kinder and gentler form of schooling that allows them to evade anonymous bureaucracies or consumer markets. They strongly voice the language of choice without adopting other [p. 471 ends] components of neo-liberal doctrines, such as the beneficial impact of academic competition and the necessity of educational markets. They hail their right to choose educational alternatives and fault the impersonality of mass public schools, but other- wise avoid endorsing neo-liberal doctrines. They seek freedom from bureaucracy, but rarely equate that freedom with markets or instrumental calculation. Increasingly, their quest is articulated by the culture of intensive parenting, with its focus on the unique needs of the child. In turn, that culture is lending legitimacy to their claims. As homeschooling grows, it is slowly penetrating the mainstream, allied to the burgeoning choice movement, while remaining aloof from its more economistic tendencies” (p. 472).) (Keywords: homeschooling, choice, markets, ideology, private education, parenting, individualism)
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