Her 'skal' vi bo, og opfostre vores børn: Et pædagogisk antropologisk casestudie om thailandske kvinders moderskab på Færøerne, med fokus på klasse og etnicitet (MA-ritgerð, Anita Vinther Andresen)

Skrivað Anita Vinther Andresen

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”This is where we want to live and raise our children”. A pedagogic anthropological case study concerning the motherhood among Thai women living in the Faroe Islands, focusing on social class and ethnicity.

This anthropological-based thesis revolves around a three-month ethnographic fieldwork among six Thai women living in the Faroe Islands. The thesis focuses on the women’s own perception of living and raising their children in the Faroe Islands. Specific factors such as social class and ethnicity will be explored in relation to how these influence women’s perceptions and practices of the “good” motherhood.

Firstly, emphasis is put on the mothers’ priorities in raising the children. Their priorities often have roots in their previous social classes when living in Thailand. Additionally, there will be a focus on the mothers’ hopes and dreams for their children’s future in the Faroe Islands.

Secondly, the fieldwork included an observation of how the mothers are raising their children in everyday practice. A detection was made of how these women prioritize their time with their children. They are, for instance, very school-minded in their way of playing and raising the children. The Thai women also have issues in accepting the pedagogic view of the creative and carefree play, which is considered to be the dominant way of raising children in the Faroe Islands. In contrast to this, it was found that the Thai mothers, who changed from working class to middle class when moving to the Faroe Islands, faced more challenges compared to the Thai women with a middle class background. One of the characteristics of how the previous working class mothers raised their children, was that they did not always set high demands nor gave their children a structured agenda every day. The working class mothers were also challenged by the private way of raising children in the Faroes compared to the more collective style of childrearing in Thailand, which often includes for instance grandmothers taking part in this.

The Thai women feel that they have originally learned different ideals of educating children opposed to the Faroese ideals. However, they all try to adapt to the Faroese way of educating children by e.g. using the Internet and TV, or National public counselling regarding children.

Furthermore, an emphasis was put on how the Thai practices are perceived by some of the Faroese family members, such as the Thai women’s mothers-in-law. This part of the thesis demonstrates clearly, what was considered dominant in the raising of children in the Faroes, and furthermore, how some Thai practices are perceived improper in the Faroese context.

To illustrate how social class and ethnicity plays part in the mothers’ perception, the analysis will be based on concepts such as the civilizing process (Elias 1939/1994), established/outsiders (Elias 1994), Forms of Capital (Bourdieu 1986), and ethnic boundaries (Barth 1969).

In conclusion, this thesis demonstrates that class and ethnicity have an influence on how the women perceive themselves. The differences of these women, shows how their social backgrounds affect their perception of the “good” motherhood. Furthermore, it was revealed that ethnicity affects the interaction between the mothers. Additionally, this thesis has, with the concept of class, illustrated how the dominant child rearing ideals not only take place in the upper classes, but that they might just as well be related to how the established and dominant Faroese people, that have the power to define what is perceived as 'real' child rearing. Therefore, newcomers can have difficulties in adapting to the new culture, making some of the Thai mothers outsiders, since their way of raising children is not perceived as right or appropriate in the Faroe Islands.

Thesis by Anita Vinther Andresen, Institut for Uddannelse og Pædagogik, Aarhus Universitet, 2017