A study of Korean transnational and immigrant mothers' beliefs and values reflected in their book choices
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This study aims to explore how seven middle-class Korean mothers with different immigrant status select books for their children’s language development and learning. For this study, I draw upon the uses and gratifications theory, Bourdieu’s notion of field, capital, habitus, and legitimate language, and Norton’s idea of investment. Through these theoretical frameworks, the mothers’ book selections are viewed as active and individual choices and a result of influenced by Korean and the U.S. society. Using multiple-case study, data were derived by interviews, observations, and documents. The data were analyzed using the constant comparative method to discover differences and commonalities among the mothers regarding their book choices. The findings highlight that the seven mothers valued the Korean language and culture for their children’s lives. However, depending on their different immigrant status, the mothers had different beliefs and values about their children’s Korean language development and cultural exposure. These beliefs and values influenced their Korean book choices. This study reveals that as schools and society imposed their values about English, these values affected the book preferences of the middle-class mothers who respected appreciated the schools. In addition, due to their immigrant status, the mothers’ different social and cultural capital in the U.S. and in Korea enhanced or restrained their access to English and Korean books. Furthermore, the findings showed that the mothers actively utilized e-books for their children’s English development and schooling in order to address what some mothers saw as their lack of cultural capital and spoken English abilities, and limited school support. As the mothers considered their minority status, they invested in more informational books regardless of languages, English or Korean to improve their children’s performance in school and to prepare them for future success. Lastly, their middle-class habitus often limited their book choices to stories about the White and Asian middle-class. The findings suggest that we need to understand immigrant parents’ diverse needs and to support them in educating their children.