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This qualitative study explores parent-teacher relations in public secondary schools in Pakistan in order to understand the interaction and communication between parents and teachers. The study is guided by Bourdieu’s conceptual and analytical tools of capital, habitus and field and uses these to disentangle the underlying structures and practices of parents and teachers. The thesis argues that the relations and practices of parents and teachers are not inert entities; rather they are dynamic and multidimensional in character. In this, class and culture, power and structures are significant, as are the dynamics of reproduction and stratification. Chapters Five through Eight draw heavily on empirical data from parents and teachers to explore the dynamics of teachers’ communication with parents. The thesis demonstrates that teachers’ communication with parents is individually and collectively underpinned by the teachers’ habitus and the field influence of the schools. The thesis argues that the underlying influences and structures of the teachers’ habitus and the schools lead most teachers to portray parents as uninterested in school visits and present them as homogenised. However, there are variations in the way teachers share their experiences. The pattern that emerges suggests that generally schools do not have formalised and institutionalised procedures for contact with parents. However, teachers’ communication with parents emerges as a complex, dynamic and patterned process, which is not only engrained in specific situations but is also underpinned by the power and class dynamics of the stakeholders. The parents’ data show them to be deeply attuned to their children’s world, through which they demonstrate that they are not ‘hard to reach’. Rather the schools themselves are hard to access. The thesis illustrates the variety and richness of the parents’ lives by examining the interplay between their habitus and field. The thesis demonstrates that whilst parents differ individually in terms of their habitus, the role of culture and field implicitly determine and collectively shape and inform parental practices and the realities around them. The interplay between parental habitus and the dynamics of the field provides a structuring structure that shapes and in some ways redefines parental habitus. The thesis also demonstrates that the interplay between parental habitus and capital, field and class provide a deep, rich and complex structure of thought and practices of parents. This interplay results in a paradox for most parents, as on the one hand, they see no bounds in harnessing their ideals and potentials but on the other hand, they do not possess the right amount and quality of structures to be able to realise these ideals. Finally, the thesis considers the implications and limitations of the study and offers recommendations designed specifically for teachers, parents and policy makers. The discussion focuses on the originality of the research and on the justification of the contribution to knowledge, which is followed by reflections on the research experience and suggestions for further research.
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