Preschool strategies among the Saudi middle classes: mobilising capitals, negotiating cultural arbitraries and anticipating change

Maryam Maryam Alharthi, Yann Lebeau

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Parental choices in non-compulsory pre–primary education are typically analysed in relation to dispositions influenced by class-related cultural capital. In Saudi Arabia, where early childhood education is yet to be fully institutionalised, other local socio-cultural dynamics enter in the formulation and approval of choice. This article focuses on choices and their justification expressed by a group of mothers from the wealthy Saudi middle class encountered at a private preschool in the city of Medina. The article reports the complexity of strategies of distinction in a conservative society that tends to exacerbate the weight of others on individual decisions. In particular, the protective importance of social networks is revealed when singular models of education are chosen, which, albeit promoted by the government in the name of modernity, remain disapproved of by many across the social spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCompare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education
Early online date14 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jan 2020


  • Parental choices
  • cultural capital
  • social capital
  • private education
  • Early Childhood Education
  • preschool
  • Saudi Arabia

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