1st Edition

Tamils, Social Capital and Educational Marginalization in Singapore
Labouring to Learn

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after July 23, 2021
ISBN 9780367141288
July 23, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
184 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Labouring to Learn examines academic mobility pathways among ethnic minority Tamil youths in public secondary schools and vocational institutions in Singapore. The book qualitatively examines the interactive effects of race and class on the educational performance of Tamil youths through the lens of social capital. Despite their numerically majoritarian position within the Indian population in Singapore, the foreclosed access for Tamils to diverse class networks within the ethnic community as well as limited inter-ethnic interactions has historically truncated the means to resources and opportunities for social mobility. In schools, the narratives of Tamil boys and girls from the weaker academic streams and economically disadvantaged backgrounds reveal that they typically experience exclusion on account of racial, economic and academic marginalization in their everyday lives. Turning to bonding ties among peers and family members provide social support resources that offer some respite from marginalization. On the flipside, articulations of resistance ensue among Tamil youths that tangibly take time away from learning on one hand, but on the other, runs the danger of empowering the cultural deficit rhetoric for mainstream society to explain poor academic performance among ethnic minorities. The account of educational marginalization amongst Singaporean Tamil youths contributes towards understanding social inequality in a non-liberal multicultural context where marginalization is differentially experienced across ethnic minority groups and traced to broader socio-historical contexts of migration, assimilation and minority-majority relations. Furthermore, it also articulates the utility of a social capital framework in historically revealing how educational inequality emerged and continues to be sustained in a postcolonial context.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Mobility Question in Modern Singapore 1. Youth and Educational Marginality in Multicultural Contexts 2. Educational Mobility in a Multiracial City-State — A Social Capital Story 3. The Politics of Racialization and Social Mobility amongst Ethnic Tamils in Singapore 4. You are Normal: Contextualizing Schooling Experiences amongst Tamil Youths 5. Being Tamil in Singapore Conclusion: Labouring to Learn

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Lavanya BALACHANDRAN is a Lecturer at the College of Alice & Peter Tan, National University of Singapore (NUS). Her research interests include inequality and stratification in Singapore with a specific focus on family, education, race and ethnicity and social networks.