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Citation:Todd, E. S., & Higgins, S. (1998). Powerlessness in professional and parent relationships. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 19(2), 227-236.

This paper, by British researchers, discusses the notion of powerlessness as it relates to the interactions between educators and parents. The authors claim that in much previous parent involvement work, the notion of power has either been absent or under-theorized. Based on evidence from an evaluation of a school improvement project, and a case study of a special education referral process, the authors discuss some of the ways in which the structuring of home-school relations around power leads to particular difficulties and complexities. They argue that the partnership between parents and professional involved in the education of the parentsÕ child can never be an equal one, due to inherent power structures that perpetuate power inequalities. The authors further explain that powerlessness occurs not only between parents and educators, but in interactions between educators as well. They conclude that Òdefensive power seeking, to reduce blame, to reduce powerlessness and maintain oneÕs sense of self, may account for both the dominance of the deficit view of home-school relations, and the failure of parental involvement to have a major impact on schools.Ó Practitioners may find the concepts of power and powerlessness, as they are used in this article, to be interesting. However, the paper does not give quite enough detail for non-British readers to fully understand the context within which the parent-teacher interactions happened.

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