Cover image for Unequal childhoods : class, race, and family life
Title:
Unequal childhoods : class, race, and family life
Author:
Lareau, Annette.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
xii, 331 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Concerted cultivation and the accomplishment of natural growth -- Social structure and daily life -- Part 1. The organization of daily life -- The hectic pace of concerted cultivation: Garrett Tallinger -- A child's pace: Tyrec Taylor -- Children's play is for children: Katie Brindle -- Part 2. Language use -- Developing a child: Alexander Williams -- Language as a conduit of social life: Harold McAllister -- Part 3. Families and institutions -- Concerted cultivation in organizational spheres: Stacey Marshall -- Concerted cultivation gone awry: Melanie Handlon -- Letting educators lead the way: Wendy Driver -- Beating with a belt, fearing "the school": Little Billy Yanelli -- The power and limits of social class.
Reading Level:
1170 Lexile.
ISBN:
9780520237636

9780520239500
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Class does make a difference in the lives and futures of American children. Drawing on in-depth observations of black and white middle-class, working-class, and poor families, Unequal Childhoods explores this fact, offering a picture of childhood today. Here are the frenetic families managing their children's hectic schedules of "leisure" activities; and here are families with plenty of time but little economic security. Lareau shows how middle-class parents, whether black or white, engage in a process of "concerted cultivation" designed to draw out children's talents and skills, while working-class and poor families rely on "the accomplishment of natural growth," in which a child's development unfolds spontaneously--as long as basic comfort, food, and shelter are provided. Each of these approaches to childrearing brings its own benefits and its own drawbacks. In identifying and analyzing differences between the two, Lareau demonstrates the power, and limits, of social class in shaping the lives of America's children.

The first edition of Unequal Childhoods was an instant classic, portraying in riveting detail the unexpected ways in which social class influences parenting in white and African-American families. A decade later, Annette Lareau has revisited the same families and interviewed the original subjects to examine the impact of social class in the transition to adulthood.


Summary

Class does make a difference in the lives and futures of American children. Drawing on in-depth observations of black and white middle-class, working-class, and poor families, Unequal Childhoods explores this fact, offering a picture of childhood today. Here are the frenetic families managing their children's hectic schedules of "leisure" activities; and here are families with plenty of time but little economic security. Lareau shows how middle-class parents, whether black or white, engage in a process of "concerted cultivation" designed to draw out children's talents and skills, while working-class and poor families rely on "the accomplishment of natural growth," in which a child's development unfolds spontaneously--as long as basic comfort, food, and shelter are provided. Each of these approaches to childrearing brings its own benefits and its own drawbacks. In identifying and analyzing differences between the two, Lareau demonstrates the power, and limits, of social class in shaping the lives of America's children.

The first edition of Unequal Childhoods was an instant classic, portraying in riveting detail the unexpected ways in which social class influences parenting in white and African-American families. A decade later, Annette Lareau has revisited the same families and interviewed the original subjects to examine the impact of social class in the transition to adulthood.


Author Notes

Annette Lareau is the Stanley I. Sheerr Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Home Advantage: Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education and coeditor of Journeys through Ethnography: Realistic Accounts of Fieldwork; Education Research on Trial; and Social Class: How Does it Work?


Annette Lareau is the Stanley I. Sheerr Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Home Advantage: Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education and coeditor of Journeys through Ethnography: Realistic Accounts of Fieldwork; Education Research on Trial; and Social Class: How Does it Work?


Reviews 5

Library Journal Review

In this thought-provoking book, Lareau (sociology, Temple Univ.) challenges the widely held perception of America as "the land of opportunity," where anyone, no matter what his or her background, can rise to great heights of achievement. Instead, she asserts, differences in child-rearing practices among social classes (race notwithstanding) profoundly influence the ways in which children think about and conduct themselves in the larger world as they grow up. Using richly detailed case studies, Lareau identifies those behaviors and compares those associated with the "concerted cultivation" typical of middle-class parenting (e.g., after-school programs) with the "accomplishment of natural growth," her name for the parenting style of harried working-class and poor parents. While the enriched activities of middle-class children put them in good stead in school, athletics, and other social situations, they may come at the cost of overscheduling and stress. Conversely, while working-class children may long to be on soccer teams or go horseback riding, they learn to entertain themselves and have close family ties. This sensitive, well-balanced book is highly recommended for academic, special, and large public libraries.-Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

In this worthy successor to the original volume published nearly a decade ago (CH, Apr'04, 41-4975), the original book remains intact, and three entirely new chapters have been added. Twelve families that were in the original study were reinterviewed 10 years later, and these interviews bring into even sharper focus how young people's life chances are greatly affected by whether they came from working-class or middle-class families as they attempt to attain their educational goals in early adulthood. Despite the fact that both classes greatly endorse ideas of educational advancement for their children, it is the middle-class children who realize their educational ambitions, and the working-class children who get sidetracked. The first edition of this book deservedly won much critical acclaim and was adopted by many undergraduate sociology classes for the clarity it brought to demonstrating stratification principles vividly and personally. Lareau (Pennsylvania) is a most gifted teacher, and her unrivaled communications skills make this book an indispensable acquisition for libraries and students to readily understand social class dynamics in the contemporary US. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. W. Feigelman Nassau Community College


Publisher's Weekly Review

This accessible ethnographic study offers valuable insights into contemporary family life in poor, working class and middle class American households. Lareau, an assistant sociology professor at the University of California, shadowed 12 diverse families for about a month, aiming for "intensive 'naturalistic' observation" of parenting habits and family culture. In detailed case studies, she tells of an affluent suburban family exhausted by jaunts to soccer practice, and of a welfare mother's attempt to sell her furniture to fund a trip to Florida with her AIDS-stricken daughter. She also shows kids of all classes just goofing around. Parenting methods, Lareau argues, vary by class more than by race. In working class and poor households, she says, parents don't bother to reason with whiny offspring and children are expected to find their own recreation rather than relying upon their families to chauffeur them around to lessons and activities. According to Lareau, working class and poor children accept financial limits, seldom talk back, experience far less sibling rivalry and are noticeably free of a sense of entitlement. Middle class children, on the other hand, become adept at ensuring that their selfish needs are met by others and are conversant in social mores such as shaking hands, looking people in the eye and cooperating with others. Both methods of child rearing have advantages and disadvantages, she says: middle class kids may be better prepared for success at school, but they're also likely to be more stressed; and working class and poor kids may have closer family ties, but sometimes miss participating in extracurricular activities. This is a careful and interesting investigation of life in "the land of opportunity" and the "land of inequality." (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.


Library Journal Review

In this thought-provoking book, Lareau (sociology, Temple Univ.) challenges the widely held perception of America as "the land of opportunity," where anyone, no matter what his or her background, can rise to great heights of achievement. Instead, she asserts, differences in child-rearing practices among social classes (race notwithstanding) profoundly influence the ways in which children think about and conduct themselves in the larger world as they grow up. Using richly detailed case studies, Lareau identifies those behaviors and compares those associated with the "concerted cultivation" typical of middle-class parenting (e.g., after-school programs) with the "accomplishment of natural growth," her name for the parenting style of harried working-class and poor parents. While the enriched activities of middle-class children put them in good stead in school, athletics, and other social situations, they may come at the cost of overscheduling and stress. Conversely, while working-class children may long to be on soccer teams or go horseback riding, they learn to entertain themselves and have close family ties. This sensitive, well-balanced book is highly recommended for academic, special, and large public libraries.-Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Lareau's book has much to offer students of US society. Despite its small sample (88 third-grade children and their parents from working-, middle-class, and poor homes), the author has marshaled her case study data well to provide a clear and incisive view of class and race divergences in the contemporary urban and suburban US. This in-depth study could compare favorably with some of the classic US ethnographies that address similar themes, like Herbert Gans's The Urban Villagers (1962). Lareau (Temple Univ.) focuses on how working and middle-class children are socialized differently; middle-class children advance to more elevated places in the social order, while working-class children are more likely to remain in less exalted positions. Yet, while middle-class children learn to accelerate their social advancements, it comes at the high price of added stress and less ability to maintain close family relationships. This book should generate lively class discussions, making it a worthy supplemental reading choice in undergraduate sociology classes, as well as a useful reference for advanced students. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. W. Feigelman Nassau Community College


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Concerted Cultivation and the Accomplishment of Natural Growth
2 Social Structure and Daily Life
Part I The Organization of Daily Life
3 A Hectic Pace of Concerted CultivationGarrett Tallinger
4 A Child's PaceTyrec Taylor
5 Children's Play Is for ChildrenKatie Brindle
Part II Language Use
6 Developing a ChildAlexander Williams
7 Language as a Conduit of Social LifeHarold McAllister
Part III Families and Institutions
8 Concerted Cultivation in Organizational SpheresStacey Marshall
9 Effort Creates MiseryMelanie Handlon
10 Letting Educators Lead the WayWendy Driver
11 Beating with a Belt, Fearing "the School"Little Billy Yanelli
12 The Power and Limits of Social Class
Appendix A Methodology: Enduring Dilemmas in Fieldwork
Appendix B Theory: Understanding the Work of Pierre Bourdieu
Appendix C Supporting Tables
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Acknowledgments
1 Concerted Cultivation and the Accomplishment of Natural Growth
2 Social Structure and Daily Life
Part I The Organization of Daily Life
3 A Hectic Pace of Concerted CultivationGarrett Tallinger
4 A Child's Pace: Tyrec Taylor
5 Children's Play Is for ChildrenKatie Brindle
Part II Language Use
6 Developing a ChildAlexander Williams
7 Language as a Conduit of Social LifeHarold McAllister
Part III Families and Institutions
8 Concerted Cultivation in Organizational SpheresStacey Marshall
9 Effort Creates MiseryMelanie Handlon
10 Letting Educators Lead the WayWendy Driver
11 Beating with a Belt, Fearing "the School"Little Billy Yanelli
12 The Power and Limits of Social Class
Appendix A Methodology: Enduring Dilemmas in Fieldwork
Appendix B Theory: Understanding the WorkPierre Bourdieu
Appendix C Supporting Tables
Notes
Bibliography
Index