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Unequal Childhoods


Unequal Childhoods Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"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

"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


Unequal Childhoods uses actual observations from black and white middle-class, working-class, and poor families to provide a vivid account of the importance of social class, and the relative unimportance of race, in shaping parents' and children's lives.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 313-323) and index.

About the Author

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?

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 Childs Pace: Tyrec Taylor

5. Childrens 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




Product Details

Class, Race, and Family Life
Lareau, Annette
University of California Press
Children's Studies
Ethnic Studies - General
Children -- Social conditions. .
Sociology - Marriage & Family
Sociology-Children and Family
Discrimination & Race Relations
Edition Description:
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
15 tables
9 x 6 x 0.88 in 17 oz

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Related Subjects

» History and Social Science » Sociology » Children and Family
» History and Social Science » Sociology » General
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Unequal Childhoods Used Trade Paper
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Product details 343 pages University of California Press - English 9780520239500 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Unequal Childhoods uses actual observations from black and white middle-class, working-class, and poor families to provide a vivid account of the importance of social class, and the relative unimportance of race, in shaping parents' and children's lives.
"Synopsis" by , Includes bibliographical references (p. 313-323) and index.
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