Edward Lee Watson

University of California – Irvine

Edward Lee Watson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology. His dissertation examines the shifting of socio-cultural boundaries within Dual Language Immersion Programs, primarily concerned with parents and students that have little connection to the language and culture affiliated with the school (i.e. English-only speakers).

Dissertation Title: Creating Culture?: The Social Inclusion and Isolation of Language Immersion

Dissertation Abstract: Historically Americans have not had much incentive to adopt another language or culture, however many are beginning to embrace them by enrolling their children in bilingual elementary education programs, specifically language immersion. Through Dual Language Immersion Programs, children learn a foreign language and culture accompanied by a traditional elementary school curriculum. The growing number of language immersion programs and their locations outside ethnic enclaves, suggests that they hold some attraction to Americans of various racial/ethnic backgrounds. Edward’s project serves as an extension to previous work that examined parental motivations for enrolling their children in Mandarin Chinese Immersion, finding that how parents rationalized their decision differed by race. Taking an ethnographic approach using interviews and participant observation, his dissertation asks in what ways do group boundaries manifest between the parents and students of the immersion and non-immersion curriculum, within a single elementary educational environment. This project is mainly concerned with the unforeseen benefits, challenges, and symbolic boundaries, of a relatively new example of multicultural education.