University of Leicester
2020GILLDPhD.pdf (2.65 MB)

Exploring the Way Pre-School Practitioners and Parents from South Asian Diaspora in the UK Perceive and Construct Their Young Children’s Identities

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posted on 2020-07-23, 20:31 authored by Dalvir Gill
This study examined the perspectives of parents from South Asian diaspora in the UK and early years practitioners regarding the construction of identities of children of South Asian heritage. Berry’s (1997, 2002, 2009) model of acculturation was used as a lens to examine how parents make sense of their and their children’s experiences in the new social and cultural context. The qualitative research data derived from 26 focus groups with 134 parents and 82 practitioners.
Findings suggested that the wishes and concerns of South Asian migrant parents regarding how they perceive and want their child’s multiple identities to be constructed is unacknowledged by practitioners. The study revealed that the most significant barrier for this was the lack of dialogue between parents and practitioners.
The research findings led me to explore and create a strategy for promoting dialogue and addressing the asymmetrical relationship between parents and practitioners. Homi Bhabha’s (1994) concept of the Third Space and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1989) offered me a theoretical frame for creating the Cultural Circles strategy for negotiating spaces in which symmetrical dialogue can take place. The metaphor of the Third Space highlighted how families from South Asian diaspora could negotiate their children’s bicultural or hybrid identities in this space, offering a rich mix of associations, emotions, experiences, and meanings that acknowledged the profound complexities of multiple rather than fixed identities among these families and their children.
Previous researchers have reported an ‘identity crisis’ during teenage years in which adolescents of migrant parents struggle to balance their heritage and host identities (Erikson, 1970; Robinson, 2009). This thesis demonstrated how early childhood practitioners could play a critical role in supporting both heritage and emerging identities in children of South Asian heritage to prevent their ‘identity crisis’ later in life.



Margaret Clark; John Peters

Date of award


Author affiliation

Newman College/Bishops Grosseteste

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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