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Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau Essay

Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life by Annette Lareau A great number of researches associate family with its class status and the economic prosperity, but none of them reveal the way through which inequality is produced as it is done in Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life by American sociologist Annette Lareau. The author has analyzed the relationships of children with their families and the external world that differ depending on social class by making observations from primary school, conversing with students’ parents.

As a result, Lareau identifies two parenting styles: concerted cultivation and the accomplishment of natural growth. The first style of children rising is determined as “concerted cultivation”. This approach is prevalent in middle-class families, where parents perpetually encourage and evaluate their children’s talents by making them interested in different activities, getting involved in their behavior with teachers. According to Lareau “the children found participating in the project enjoyable.

They reported it made them feel “special” (Lareau 9). In contrast to the previous approach, “natural accomplishment of growth” is common among working-class and poor families. This parenting style is more natural, concentrating on giving children’s main needs while permitting talents to cultivate naturally rather than the concerted cultivation. Lareau claims: “Working class and poor families organize their time differently from middle-class families” (Lareau 72-73).

Life of those children goes on near home with a small amount of activities. Their parents do not pay due attention to the education and development of the children. The author says that the main task for these parents is “to put food on the table, arrange for housing , … have them ready for school” and they do not “focus on concerted cultivation” (Lareau 2-3). Lareau states that working-class parents are no less keen than middle-class parents to want their children to be successful in an educational institution (Lareau 198).

Annette Lareau notify that a lot of working-class parents think that educators judge them and are frequently afraid to do the “wrong thing” (Lareau 198). Whereas parents of middle-class are more exacting towards school personnel, working-class and poor parents are more dutiful (Lareau 198). Middle-class mothers actively monitor, criticize and intervene in children’s schooling. That is way Lareau mentions about “intensive mothering” (Lareau 236, 386).

All mothers want to be good mothers; they must devote themselves to child rising, but at the same time be ambitious at work. Along with intensive motherhood we can observe a new style of father – distant breadwinner. “The new father” differs from mature images of involved fatherhood: he is current at the birth, participates in the actual day-to-day execute of daycare, equally pays attention to daughters and sons. Throughout the book, Lareau emphasizes that each style has preferences and flaws.

For instance, middle-class children are frequently tired; they do not communicate as much with extended family as working-class children. However, when they get into an adult world, the technique of middle-class children rising of concerted cultivation is more in conformity with the actual requirements of experts than is the technique of the accomplishment of natural growth. Middle-class children have preferences (concerted cultivation results in larger cultural capital) while working-class children do not obtain this advantage.

The author claims that the working-classes have less “cultural capital” or “acquired skills” than the middle-class to navigate in the world (Lareau 7, 29, 62). Hence, on the one hand, through concerted cultivation parents can mold a personality; the children will have some benefits in certain social environments. On the other hand, through natural development children can learn how to deal with the world at an early age, which can provide that individual benefits in many circumstances.


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