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"Less than one in five Americans think 'race, gender, religion or social class are very important for getting ahead in life,' Annette Lareau tells us in her carefully researched and clearly written new book. But as she brilliantly shows, everything from looking authority figures in the eye when you shake their hands to spending long periods in a shared space and squabbling with siblings is related to social class. This is one of the most penetrating works I have read on a topic that only grows in importance as the class gap in America widens."—Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of The Time Bind and The Commercialization of Intimate Life
"This is a great book, not only because of its powerful portrayal of class inequalities in the United States and its insightful analysis of the processes through which inequality is reproduced, but also because of its frank engagement with methodological and analytic dilemmas usually glossed over in academic texts. Hardly any other studies have the rich, intensive ethnographic focus on family of Unequal Childhoods." —Diane Reay, American Journal of Sociology
"Lareau does sociology and lay readers alike an important service in her engaging book, Unequal Childhoods, by showing us exactly what kinds of knowledge, upbringing, skills, and bureaucratic savvy are involved in this idea, and how powerfully inequality in this realm perpetuates economic inequality. Through textured and intimate observation, Lareau takes us into separate worlds of pampered but overextended, middle-class families and materially stressed, but relatively relaxed, working-class and poor families to show how inequality is passed on across generations." —Katherine Newman, Contexts
"Sociology at its best. In this major study, Lareau provides the tools to make sense of the frenzied middle-class obsession with their offspring's extracurricular activities; the similarities between black and white professionals; and the paths on which poor and working class kids are put by their circumstances. This book will help generations of students understand that organized soccer and pick-up basketball have everything to do with the inequality of life chances."—Michele Lamont, author of The Dignity of Working Men: Morality and the Boundaries of Race, Class, and Immigration
"Drawing upon remarkably detailed case studies of parents and children going about their daily lives, Lareau argues that middle-class and working-class families operate with different logics of childrearing, which both reflect and contribute to the transmission of inequality. An important and provocative book."—Barrie Thorne, author of Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School
"With rich storytelling and insightful detail, Lareau takes us inside the family lives of poor, middle-class, and affluent Americans and reminds us that class matters. Unequal Childhoods thoughtfully demonstrates that class differences in cultural resources, played out in the daily routines of parenting, can have a powerful impact on children's chances for climbing the class ladder and achieving the American dream. This provocative and often disturbing book will shape debates on the U.S. class system for decades to come."—Sharon Hays, author of Flat Broke with Children
"Drawing on intimate knowledge of kids and families studied at school and at home, Lareau examines the social changes that have turned childhood into an extended production process for many middle-class American families. Her depiction of this new world of childhood--and her comparison of the middle-class ideal of systematic cultivation to the more naturalistic approach to child development to which many working-class parents still adhere--maps a critically important dimension of American family life and raises challenging questions for parents and policy makers."—Paul DiMaggio, Professor of Sociology, Princeton University
"Annette Lareau has written another classic. Her deep insights about the social stratification of family life and childrearing have profound implications for understanding inequality -- and for understanding the daily struggles of everyone attempting to raise children in America. Lareau's findings have great force because they are thoroughly grounded in compelling ethnographic evidence."—Adam Gamoran, Professor of Sociology and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
"With the poignant details of daily life assembled in a rigorous comparative design, Annette Lareau has produced a highly ambitious ethnographic study that reveals how social class makes a difference in children's lives. Unequal Childhoods will be read alongside Sewell and Hauser, Melvin Kohn, and Bourdieu. It is an important step forward in the study of social stratification and family life, and a valuable exemplar for comparative ethnographic work."—Mitchell Duneier, author of Sidewalk and Slim's Table
1. Concerted Cultivation and the Accomplishment of Natural Growth
2. Social Structure and Daily Life
Part I. Organization of Daily Life
3. The Hectic Pace of Concerted Cultivation: Garrett Tallinger
4. A Child’s Pace: Tyrec Taylor
5. Children’s Play Is for Children: Katie Brindle
Part II. Language Use
6. Developing a Child: Alexander Williams
7. Language as a Conduit for Social Life: Harold McAllister
Part III. Families and Institutions
8. Concerted Cultivation in Organizational Spheres: Stacey Marshall
9. Concerted Cultivation Gone Awry: Melanie Handlon
10. Letting Educators Lead the Way: Wendy Driver
11. Beating with a Belt, Fearing “the School”: Little Billy Yanelli
12. The Power and Limits of Social Class
Part IV. Unequal Childhoods and Unequal Adulthoods
13. Class Differences in Parents’ Information and Intervention in the Lives of Young Adults
14. Reflections on Longitudinal Ethnography and the Families’ Reactions to Unequal Childhoods
15. Unequal Childhoods in Context: Results from a Quantitative Analysis
Annette Lareau, Elliot Weininger, Dalton Conley, and Melissa Velez
Appendix A. Methodology: Enduring Dilemmas in Fieldwork
Appendix B. Theory: Understanding the Work of Pierre Bourdieu
Appendix C. Supporting Tables
Appendix D. Tables for the Second Edition
Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life is mainly about concerted cultivation. Even though Wikipedia is not considered a reliable source, it defined concerted cultivation as a style of parenting that is marked by a parent's attempts to foster their child's talents through organized leisure activities. This parenting style is commonly exhibited in middle and upper class American families. A child that has been concertedly cultivated will often express greater social prowess in social situations involving formality or structure attributed to their increased in organized clubs, sports, musical groups as well as increased experience with adults and power structure.
Concerted cultivation also emphasizes the use of reasoning skills and variations in language use. Parents start to encourage their children to learn how to speak with adults so that they become comfortable and understand the importance of eye contact and speaking properly at an early age. This explains the book in a nutshell.
Annette Lareau compared working class families and middle class families and it is evident how certain children are concertedly cultivated. Children who are reared through concerted cultivation are prepared to negotiate their way through life as well as have things work in their favor more than children who are not concertedly cultivated.
In chapter three, Lareau wrote that concerted cultivation controls adults' leisure time. This chapter took a look at Garrett Tallinger and his family who were middle class. Organized sports were a top priority for the family. The Tallingers and others like them are committed to child-rearing strategies that favor the individual development of each child, sometimes at the expense of family time and group needs. Lareau wrote that these young sports enthusiasts and budding musicians acquire skills and dispositions that help them navigate the institutional world. She also said that compared to their working-class and poor counterparts, middle-class children are more competitive with and hostile toward their siblings, and they have much weaker ties with extended family members.
Chapter six focused on Alexander Williams and his family, who were also middle class. In this chapter the use of language was important. There was a specific case where Alexander went to the doctors with his mother and she encouraged him to tell the doctor how he felt and what was ailing him instead of her telling the doctor.
Chapter eight looked at Stacey Marshall and the Marshall's who were also middle class. Mr. and Ms. Marshall preferred to reason with their children rather than give directives. This chapter looked at families and institutions. There was one incident where Ms. Marshall was attending a party with her two daughters and Stacey started to get irritated with her mother. Stacey said, "Just leave Mom - I can't take much more of you." Ms. Marshall did not chastise her daughter after the statement. A working class mother might have felt that the statement was disrespectful and used corporal punishment to correct the child.
Chapter eight also focused on family and institutions, particularly taking a look at Billy and the Yanelli's. This was a working class family where both of the parents were high school dropouts with no health insurance. Billy did fairly well in school but was considered a behavioral problem. His mother corrected him by spanking him, which school administrators considered inappropriate.
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