Social class, intensive parenting norms and parental values for children

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10 Citations (Scopus)


As the global trend towards both middle- and working-class families raising their children intensively increases, social class differences in parenting beliefs and choices for their children have become more subtle. In light of the proliferation of intensive parenting norms, however, few studies have explored particular mechanisms underlying the subtle class differences linked to parental values. Drawing on in-depth interviews of 51 Hong Kong Chinese parents, this study investigated how parents contended with competing values in socialization, which in turn shaped their parenting choices. Three common values emerged from the interviews – academic excellence, hard work and happiness – showing that the middle and working classes managed their values for children in two different ways, termed here as ‘values coupling’ and ‘values juggling’, respectively. Middle-class parents were able to make their value choices cohesive through a ‘twist’ to reconcile between competing values. However, working-class parents were inclined to ‘drift’ their value choices in the face of unreconciled value tensions as well as structural constraints. Subtle differences in parental values were found to be tied to class position, and contributed to maintaining class inequality and social reproduction. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)964-981
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number6
Early online dateOct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


Lee, T. T.-L. (2023). Social class, intensive parenting norms and parental values for children. Current Sociology, 71(6), 964-981.


  • Hong Kong
  • Inequality
  • Intensive parenting
  • Parental values
  • Social class


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