Through a case study of refugee mothers and school staff in Houston, Texas, this study aims to show that critical social connections can be made for refugee mothers by building social capital through their children’s schools. Refugee mothers are more likely than men or children to encounter challenges to making new connections in their resettlement community due to linguistic barriers and duties in the home. Therefore, schools are one of the first places where refugee mothers may find opportunities for building social capital. Using Bourdieu and Coleman’s approach to social capital as obtained by individuals, this study assesses the challenges that refugee mothers experienced after their initial arrival and how increased social connections may have eased their transition to living in the US and understanding a new educational system. By looking at practices of schools in providing opportunities for refugee mothers to access bonding, bridging, and linking social capital opportunities, this study found that Houston area schools needed to assess their inclusivity and make structural changes to parental involvement and leadership approaches. Expanding the theory of social capital in relation to schools beyond students and to parents is especially critical for underrepresented groups such as refugee mothers.

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Messkoub, Mahmood
Governance, Migration and Diversity (GMD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Thomas West, Lauren. (2019, December 20). Social capital and refugee mothers: How can schools provide opportunities for increased social connection within their community?. Governance, Migration and Diversity (GMD). Retrieved from