Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau
Class, Race, and Family Life

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Annette Lareau

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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?
 
Published September 11, 2003 by University of California Press. 343 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Children's Books, Parenting & Relationships, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Unequal Childhoods

Publishers Weekly

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This accessible ethnographic study offers valuable insights into contemporary family life in poor, working class and middle class American households.

| Read Full Review of Unequal Childhoods: Class, Ra...

Examiner

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-cla...

Dec 12 2009 | Read Full Review of Unequal Childhoods: Class, Ra...

Project MUSE

In her study, middle-class black children's lives are organized more similarly to middle-class white children's lives than to poorer black children's lives.

| Read Full Review of Unequal Childhoods: Class, Ra...

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