Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life / Edition 1

Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life / Edition 1

by Annette Lareau
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University of California Press
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Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life / Edition 1

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520239500
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 09/11/2003
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 343
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

Table of Contents


1. Concerted Cultivation and the Accomplishment of Natural Growth

2. Social Structure and Daily Life


3. A Hectic Pace of Concerted Cultivation: Garrett Tallinger

4. A Child's Pace: Tyrec Taylor

5. Children's Play Is for Children: Katie Brindle


6. Developing a Child: Alexander Williams

7. Language as a Conduit of Social Life: Harold McAllister


8. Concerted Cultivation in Organizational Spheres: Stacey Marshall

9. Effort Creates Misery: 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

Appendix A. Methodology: Enduring Dilemmas in Fieldwork

Appendix B. Theory: Understanding the Work of Pierre Bourdieu

Appendix C. Supporting Tables




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Unequal Childhoods 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
selfmade87 More than 1 year ago
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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I enjoyed the book for many reasons. To being, it brought to my attention the importance of economic class and how children are being raised. It is evident in the studies of the 12 families that your social class plays a major role in how the children develop. Some of these influences may either be positive or negative. I also became aware of the difference between concerted cultivation and natural growth. These can be seen as tools that parents used in the different social classes, and also impact how each individual child was raised in their household. Ultimately, Lareau's hypothesis regarding social class and parenting were true. After years of following these families, she sees that social class and parenting will effect the child's work and educational future. I also enjoyed that the families were able to voice their opinions regarding Larueau's study. Some agreed or disagreed on her views. However, it allowed me to realize that how you view your parenting may be different than how everyone else sees your parenting style. Overall, I enjoyed the author's dedication to understanding the various parenting styles and being open and honest with her findings on these particular families.