Date of Award

Summer 6-25-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Special Education - General Curriculum (Ed.D)



Committee Chair

Dr. Harriet Bessette

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Raynice Jean-Sigur

Second Committee Member

Dr. Amanda Richey


The purpose of the present study was to understand and generate theory relevant to educator-parents’ and non-educator parents’ perceptions of their efficacy as advocates for their own child(ren) with exceptionalities, as embodied in social and cultural capitals, as espoused by Bourdieu (1986). The present study was guided by the following research questions: How do educator-parents and non-educator parents perceive their efficaciousness as advocates for their own children with exceptionalities? How do educator-parents and non-educator parents construct the narrative of their efficaciousness as advocates as embodied in cultural and/or social capital?

Constructivist Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2000, 2006) was chosen for the six-month qualitative investigation to elicit parents’ perceptions that both informed, and was informed by, rich data using a constructivist approach. The participants in the present study included four educators who were also parents of children with exceptionalities and four non-educator parents of children with exceptionalities for a total of eight parents. Data sources included in-depth biographical and open-ended interviews, diaries, documents for review, participant-generated visual representations, and researcher-generated memos. These multiple data sources were analyzed using constant comparative analysis throughout the study. To identify analytic distinctions, Bourdieu’s Theory of Social and Cultural Capital (1986) was used as a beginning foothold for the grounded study upon which results were analyzed, findings were expounded, and researcher-generated theory was formulated. It is the confluence of parents’ experiences, expectations, and social and cultural affordances that help them conceptualize their efficaciousness as advocates for their child(ren) with exceptionalities. Theory as embodied by the participants of the study, educator-parents, and non-educator parents, reveal how social and cultural capitals differentially affect parents’ self-efficacy in advocating for their child(ren) with an exceptionality.