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Review a Podcast and explain how it is related to sociological research

Review a Podcast and explain how it is related to sociological research

Help review a Podcast and explain how it is related to sociological research. Podcast name: “Nice White Parents.” by Chana Jofee Walt 

Podcast Review SOC146: Sociology of Privilege Dr. Tristan Bridges scenario for the assignment For this assignment, I want you to imagine that you are a sociologist who studies educational inequalities in the U.S. After listening to the podcast, you decide that you are going to write a series of essays summarizing the important sociological research illustrated in the story told and analysis provided. I want you to imagine this essay is the first in a series of essays you’ll write summarizing different elements of the podcast sociologically. Your task is to review the podcast, explain how it relates to sociological research on privilege we will be reading and learning about in this course, and draw on course readings and lecture material to zoom in on the piece of the podcast you elect to write about in greater depth to explain that piece sociologically. formatting This paper should be approximately 5-6 pages, double-spaced. Include a reference section at the end of the paper using APA formatting, listing the references (including readings and lectures) you cited. organization and paper details • Summarize the central question(s) asked and answered in the podcast. Think about

it this way: what questions is Chana Joffe-Walt is attempting to answer? (~1 paragraph)

• How does Joffe-Walt go about answering these questions? What does she do to investigate the issues she is interested in learning more about? Consider here the perspectives and specific types of data she utilized. (~1 paragraph)

• Pick a portion of the podcast that you have decided to focus on in depth in this essay. Take a paragraph to summarize briefly what that specific focus is. (1 paragraph)

• This next portion of your paper can be done in one of two ways: o First, Summarize and describe the main findings from the component of the

podcast you elect to focus on for the paper. Here, you’ll call upon specific

quotes from informants or specific information presented to summarize the findings from the part of the podcast you are writing about (this portion should take approximately 2 pages). Second, you’ll connect course materials with the portion of the podcast you are writing about. In this section of the paper, you’ll explicitly connect with course readings and lecture material to help make sense of white parents’ choices as they relate to the specific part of the podcast about which you are writing (this portion should also take approximately 2 pages).

o While the above asks you to segregate your summary of the podcast from your review of the podcast by situating it relative to sociological work on privilege, the other option is that you pursue both summary and situated sociological review at the same time. I still want to see the same amount of space dedicated to summary and review. But you are welcome to integrate these sections if you find this easier.

• At the end, offer a 1 paragraph conclusion summarizing the main argument(s) you have sought to make in the paper about “Nice White Parents.” (1 paragraph)

• Optional: Briefly discuss your opinion on the podcast. Did you like the podcast? Did you find it convincing? Why or why not? Do you have any criticisms? (~1 paragraph)

• Finally, include references to all of the reading and lecture material cited in the paper in APA format. Your reference should not be a part of the 5-6 pages of the body of the paper. o Lectures can be cited by week. For example:

“Bridges (week 3) discusses the theoretical body of work presenting privilege as ‘invisible,’ noting that existing scholarship…”

o And you can cite lecture material in your reference section, by week of lecture as well. For example: Bridges, Tristan. 2021. Week 3. “On the Relative (In)visibility of Privilege and Zero-Sum Ideologies of (Dis)Advantage.”


American Sociological Review 2014, Vol. 79(5) 1015 –1037 © American Sociological Association 2014 DOI: 10.1177/0003122414546931

Children are not passive players in the repro- duction of social inequalities. We know that children’s behaviors vary with social class and generate stratified profits in school (Calarco 2011; Farkas 1996; Streib 2011). Less clear is how children learn to activate class-based strategies and how those lessons contribute to stratification. Scholars typically treat cultural acquisition as an implicit pro- cess in which class-based childrearing prac- tices automatically shape children’s behavior (Arnett 1995; Heath 1983; Lareau 2011). Given parents’ active management of chil- dren’s lives (Edwards 2004; Lareau 2000; Nelson 2010) and children’s active resistance to parents’ desires (Chin and Phillips 2004; Pugh 2009), however, cultural transmission may involve more agency than implicit socialization models imply. Furthermore, while scholars assume that parents’ cultural

coaching reproduces inequalities (e.g., Lar- eau 2011), research has not linked these efforts to their payoff for children in school.

To investigate these possibilities, this study examines how parents actively transmit culture to children, how children respond, and how those responses generate stratified prof- its. I base these analyses on a longitudinal ethnographic study of middle- and working- class families in one elementary school. I conducted observations and in-depth interviews with the children, their parents,

546931 ASRXXX10.1177/0003122414546931American Sociological ReviewCalarco 2014

aIndiana University

Corresponding Author: Jessica McCrory Calarco, Indiana University, Department of Sociology, 1020 East Kirkwood Avenue, Ballantine Hall, 744 Bloomington, IN 47405-7103 E-mail: [email protected]

Coached for the Classroom: Parents’ Cultural Transmission and Children’s Reproduction of Educational Inequalities

Jessica McCrory Calarcoa

Abstract Scholars typically view class socialization as an implicit process. This study instead shows how parents actively transmit class-based cultures to children and how these lessons reproduce inequalities. Through observations and interviews with children, parents, and teachers, I found that middle- and working-class parents expressed contrasting beliefs about appropriate classroom behavior, beliefs that shaped parents’ cultural coaching efforts. These efforts led children to activate class-based problem-solving strategies, which generated stratified profits at school. By showing how these processes vary along social class lines, this study reveals a key source of children’s class-based behaviors and highlights the efforts by which parents and children together reproduce inequalities.

Keywords culture, inequality, education, family, children

1016 American Sociological Review 79(5)

and their teachers. I found that parents con- tributed to social reproduction by actively equipping children with class-based strategies that generated unequal outcomes when acti- vated at school. Parents’ relationships with the school varied by social class and shaped their beliefs about teachers’ behavioral expec- tations. Those beliefs led parents to adopt contrasting strategies for managing problems at school and to coach their children to do the same. Specifically, working-class parents stressed “no-excuses” problem-solving, encouraging children to respect teachers’ authority by not seeking help. Middle-class parents instead taught “by-any-means” problem- solving, urging children to negotiate with teachers for assistance. These ongoing and often deliberate coaching efforts equipped even reluctant children with the tools needed to activate class-based strategies on their own behalf. Such activation, in turn, prompted stratified responses from teachers and thus created unequal advantages in school.

This study has important implications. First, it clarifies class-based socialization models by showing that children’s acquisition of class-based behaviors is neither implicit nor automatic; rather, cultural transmission involves active efforts by both parents and children. Second, it helps explain class-stratified childrearing patterns, suggesting that parents’ efforts reflect beliefs stemming from their positions in the social hierarchy. Third, it demonstrates that by examining how cultural transmission varies along social class lines, and by linking these processes to their payoff in schools, we can better understand the mechanisms of social reproduction.

ClAss, CulTuRE, And REPRoduCTIon of InEquAlITIEs

Scholars conceptualize culture in myriad ways (Small, Harding, and Lamont 2010), but here I view culture as a “tool kit” that includes both “strategies of action” (Swidler 1986) and “log- ics of action” (DiMaggio 1997). Strategies of action are skills or behaviors used in social

situations (Bourdieu 1990; Lareau and Weininger 2003). Logics of action are frames for interpreting situations (Harding 2007; Small 2004). This view of culture recognizes that individuals might behave differently in the same situation because they possess different strategies for use in that situation, or because they interpret the situation differently and thus choose to activate different strategies.

While cultural tool kits have numerous dimensions (e.g., gender, age, race, and eth- nicity), research on tool kits generally focuses on social class (Bourdieu 1990; Lareau 2000). To identify social classes, tool-kit scholars typically use educational and occupational attainment (Aschaffenburg and Maas 1997; Condron 2009).1 In doing so, they find that middle- and working-class individuals per- ceive themselves differently in relation to dominant institutions and also possess differ- ent strategies for navigating those settings (Lamont 1992, 2009; Lubrano 2004; Stuber 2012). Compared to their working-class coun- terparts, middle-class individuals experience a stronger sense of belonging in schools and other institutional arenas (Carter 2005; Khan 2010; Lareau 2000; Lubrano 2004). They also see their status as equaling or surpassing that of institutional professionals and are thus more comfortable demanding accommoda- tions from institutions (Brantlinger 2003; Cucchiara and Horvat 2008; Lareau 2000).

Class-based cultural tool kits are closely linked to inequalities (Bourdieu 1990; Lareau and Weininger 2003). Within a social setting, behaviors will generate profits if they con- verge with the culture of that setting. Poorly aligned behaviors, in contrast, will produce few or no advantages, and may even result in sanctions.

Research shows, for example, that chil- dren’s activation of class-based tool kits can generate unequal advantages. In school, chil- dren tend to behave in class-patterned ways that produce stratified consequences (Heath 1983; Nelson and Schutz 2007; Streib 2011). Middle-class children more readily voice their needs and, in doing so, attract more immediate attention and more complete sup- port from teachers (Calarco 2011). These

Calarco 1017

inequalities reflect teachers’ and administra- tors’ expectations that students will behave in “middle-class” ways (Carter 2005; Farkas 1996; Mehan 1980; Wren 1999). While working-class students must play catch-up, middle-class students come to school ready to meet these expectations (Bernstein 1990; Foley 1990; Lubienski 2000) and to reap the benefits—including higher grades and higher competence ratings from teachers (Farkas 1996; Jennings and DiPrete 2010; Tach and Farkas 2006). What research on culture and classroom interactions has not examined, however, is how children learn these different strategies or why they activate them in the classroom.

fAMIlIEs And REPRoduCTIon of InEquAlITIEs

Socialization scholars imply that children’s class-based behaviors emerge automatically in response to class-based childrearing practices (Arnett 1995). Middle- and working-class parents typically adopt different childrearing styles, and their children behave in different ways (Chin and Phillips 2004; Edwards 2004; Heath 1983). Lareau (2011:6), for example, shows middle-class parents allowing children to negotiate and assert themselves and their children displaying an “emerging sense of entitlement.” Working-class parents, in turn, emphasize obedience and deference to author- ity, and their children demonstrate an “emerg- ing sense of constraint.” Lareau concludes that children’s behaviors are likely an implicit and automatic response to class-based childrearing practices.

Such explanations, however, have two important limitations. First, they ignore the possibility of more active cultural transmis- sion (Elder 1974; Pugh 2009; Thorne 1993). Research shows that parents and children can both be very strategic in their actions. Middle- class parents, for example, intervene for their children at school (Brantlinger 2003; Lareau 2000; Nelson 2010), and working-class par- ents try to manage how their families are

perceived by others (Edwards 2004). Yet, because scholars pay little attention to the log- ics of action that guide childrearing decisions, it is unclear whether or how parents deliber- ately try to equip children to manage their own challenges. Similarly, while scholars have documented children’s rejection of par- ents’ wishes (Chin and Phillips 2004; Pugh 2009; Zelizer 2002), they have not fully explored how children come to accept and utilize parents’ class-based lessons. Lareau (2011), for example, observed children only in interactions with parents and did not conduct interviews with them. Thus, she cannot say how children behave in their parents’ absence or how children make sense of and internalize what they learn.

Second, socialization research has done little to link class-based cultural transmission to social reproduction. Lareau (2011), for example, assumes that class-based childrear- ing patterns matter for inequalities. Yet, she does not show how children’s entitlement or constraint generates stratified profits. Overall, while existing research highlights important social class differences in childrearing, chil- dren’s behaviors, and classroom advantages, we know little about how the active efforts of parents and children contribute to cultural transmission or how this transmission repro- duces inequalities.

This study examines these possibilities, considering how parents prompt children to activate class-based behaviors and how those efforts contribute to social reproduction. I do so by answering the following research questions:

1. How do parents’ understandings of appropriate classroom behavior vary with social class?

2. How do parents actively teach children class-based behaviors?

3. How do children come to activate par- ents’ preferred behaviors?

4. How does this activation reproduce social inequalities?

I answer these questions with data from a longitudinal, ethnographic study of middle-

1018 American Sociological Review 79(5)

and working-class, white families whose chil- dren attended the same elementary school.

REsEARCh METhods Research Site and Sample

Maplewood (all names are pseudonyms) is a public elementary school near a large, Eastern city (see Figure 1). While most of Maple- wood’s families are middle-class, many (~30 percent) are working-class. This allowed me to compare how middle- and working-class parents and children interact with each other and with the same teachers. My connections

to the community (a close relative is a Maple- wood employee) facilitated access to the site and acceptance of the project.

At Maplewood, I chose one cohort (four classrooms) of students to follow from 3rd to 5th grade. The minority population at Maple- wood was small and stratified, including middle- class Asian Americans and working-class Latinos. Thus, to avoid conflating race and class, I focused on white students. I also excluded students who moved away. See Table 1 for sample characteristics and recruit- ment procedures.

I used surveys and school records to iden- tify students’ social class backgrounds,

MAPLEWOOD Public School 500 students Grades K–5 82% White 9% Latino 6% Asian American 3% African American

Home Types: Apartments, mobile homes, small single-family homes

Home Values: $150K to $250K

Jobs: Plumber; daycare provider; sales clerk; waitress; truck driver; etc.

Home Types: Medium to large single-family homes

Home Values: $250K to $2M

Jobs: Doctor/nurse; lawyer; teacher; business manager; accountant; etc.



figure 1. Research Site

Calarco 1019

grouping them by parents’ educational and occupational status (Aschaffenburg and Maas 1997; Condron 2009). Middle-class families had at least one parent with a four-year college degree and at least one parent in a professional or managerial occupation. Working-class fam- ilies did not meet these criteria; parents typi- cally had high school diplomas and worked in blue-collar or service jobs. These were “settled-living” working-class families (Edwards 2004; Rubin 1976) with steady jobs, stable relationships, and neat, clean homes. There were, however, a few single-parents in both class groups. While these parents some- times felt overwhelmed with responsibilities, their efforts to teach their children closely paralleled those of two-parent families from similar class backgrounds.

Data Collection

The longitudinal study included in-school observations; in-depth interviews with chil- dren, parents, and teachers; parent surveys; and analyses of students’ school records. Table 2 provides details. I observed during the students’ 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-grade school years, visiting Maplewood at least twice

weekly, with each observation lasting approx- imately three hours. I divided time equally between the four classrooms in each grade and rotated the days and times I observed each class. During observations, I used ethno- graphic jottings to document interactions I observed and to record pieces of dialog from informal conversations with teachers and stu- dents. After each observation, I expanded these jottings into detailed fieldnotes.

Ethnographers must make hard choices. In this study, I focused my three years of obser- vations in classrooms so as to see the payoff of parents’ efforts. As a result, the study does not include systematic home observations. Still, I was able to observe parent-child inter- actions during school events and during inter- views in family homes. These observations corroborated the numerous reports of parent- child coaching that I gathered from inter- views with children, parents, and teachers.

All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. I used these interviews to under- stand children’s home lives, school experi- ences, and interactions with parents, teachers, and classmates. When speaking with parents and students, I concluded each interview by asking interviewees to respond to four

Table 1. Participants by Role and Type of Participation

Classroom Observationsa In-Home Interviewsbc

Parent Surveys

Students White, Working-Class 14 9 White, Middle-Class 42 12 Parents White, Working-Class 9 14 White, Middle-Class 15 42 Teachers 17 12

aI solicited parents’ consent for observation of all students in the target cohort at Maplewood, receiving permission for all but 19 children. For this analysis, I excluded minority students (n = 10) and children who moved away during the study (n = 12). bI interviewed parents and children from the same families, selecting families from those who were already participating in the observation portion of the study. I contacted all 14 working-class families and a randomly selected group of 15 middle-class families to participate in interviews. Although 27 families agreed to participate, scheduling conflicts prevented some interviews from taking place. cMost parents interviewed were mothers (I asked to speak with children’s primary caregivers). The sample includes two single fathers (both working-class) and three married fathers (all middle-class) who participated in interviews with their wives. Most participants were in married, two-parent families; six parents were divorced (three working-class, three middle-class).

1020 American Sociological Review 79(5)

vignettes. These vignettes described typical classroom challenges (e.g., “Jason is strug- gling to understand the directions on a test”) and were based on situations I had observed or learned about through conversations with teachers. With each vignette, I asked inter- viewees to describe how the characters should respond to the situation (e.g., “What do you think Jason should do?”). I also asked partici- pants to discuss similar experiences in their own lives. I then coded these open-ended responses and used them to compare respond- ents’ attitudes across social class and genera- tional lines. I present some of these comparisons to highlight patterns documented in the larger ethnographic study.

Data Analysis

I conducted an ongoing process of data analy- sis, regularly reviewing fieldnotes and

interview transcripts and writing analytic memos (Emerson, Fretz, and Shaw 1995). I used the memos to identify emerging themes in the data, discuss connections to existing research, and pose additional questions. After creating a preliminary coding scheme from themes in the memos, I used ATLAS.ti to code sections of fieldnotes, interview tran- scripts, documents, and seating charts. While coding, I also developed data matrices (Miles and Huberman 1994) to clarify comparisons and identify disconfirming evidence.

PAREnTs’ undERsTAndIngs of APPRoPRIATE BEhAvIoR Before examining parents’ coaching of class- based strategies, it is important to understand how social class shaped these efforts. Research highlights social class differences in parents’ interactions with their children (Chin

Table 2. Study Overview and Timeline

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5

Period of Study March 2008 to June 2008

August 2008 to June 2009

August 2009 to June 2010

Observationsa 4 Classrooms 4 Classrooms 4 Classrooms (~20 students each) (~20 students each) (~20 students each) Twice weekly Twice weekly Twice weekly 3 Hours per visit 3 Hours per visit 3 Hours per visit

Interviews 4 Teachersb 4 Teachers 4 Teachers 21 Studentsc

24 Parentsd

Parent Surveyse 56 Families

School Recordsf 52 Students 52 Students 52 Students

aI observed students in their regular classes and ability-grouped math classes; during enrichment activities (art, gym, library, music, and Spanish); during lunch and recess; and during assemblies and other school activities. bTeacher interviews were conducted mid-way through each school year. Interviews took place in teachers’ classrooms and lasted approximately 60 to 90 minutes. cStudent interviews were conducted during the summer after 5th grade, when students were 10 or 11 years old. Interviews took place in children’s homes and lasted about 60 to 90 minutes. dParent interviews were conducted during the summer after 5th grade. Interviews took place in parents’ homes (except one, which took place in a parent’s office) and lasted approximately 90 to 120 minutes. eParent surveys collected information on students’ family backgrounds, school achievement, friendships, and after-school activities. fStudents’ school records included grades, standardized test scores, and teacher comments, as well as records of e-mail, phone, and written contact between parents and teachers. Four families closed access to their children’s school records.

Calarco 1021

and Phillips 2004; Lareau 2011) and with their children’s schools (Cucchiara and Hor- vat 2008; Lareau 2000; Nelson 2010). Yet, scholars say little about the origins of such patterns. At Maplewood, I found that middle- and working-class parents had different strat- egies for managing problems at school. Those differences reflected parents’ positions in the status hierarchy, which influenced their com- fort interacting with the school and led them to adopt different class-based logics of action for interpreting the “appropriate” form of behavior in those settings.

Middle-Class Parents: Modeling By-Any-Means Problem-Solving

Middle-class parents adopted a by-any-means approach to solving problems with their chil- dren’s schooling. They actively intervened to request support and accommodations, lobby- ing to have children tested for gifted or spe- cial needs programs and often writing notes excusing their children from homework and other activities. Ms. Bell sent this note to her son’s 3rd-grade teacher, Ms. Nelson, when he left his homework at school:

Dear Paula, Aidan forgot his homework folder yester- day. As a result, he was not able to do his homework last night. I will have him com- plete it this evening. I apologize for the inconvenience. Last night I had him read and do math problems from a workbook to replace homework time. Again, sorry he won’t be prepared today. Susan

Middle-class parents seemed to expect their interventions to generate benefits, and they were usually correct in that assumption. Ms. Nelson, for example, generally required stu- dents to stay in for recess if they forgot their homework. Given Ms. Bell’s note, however, Ms. Nelson allowed Aidan to submit the homework the next day with no penalty.

Middle-class parents adopted this by-any- means approach to problem-solving because

they interpreted classroom interactions through a logic of entitlement. Given their educational and occupational attainment, middle-class par- ents appeared to perceive themselves as equal or greater in status relative to children’s teach- ers. As a result, they were very comfortable intervening and questioning teachers’ judg- ments regarding classroom assignments, abil- ity group placements, testing procedures, and homework policies. One interview vignette described a student, “Brian,” who came home complaining about being “bored” in math class. As Table 3 shows, parents’ responses to this vignette divided sharply by social class. While all the middle-class parents saw the situ- ation as requiring immediate requests for accommodations, working-class parents tended to view deference to teachers’ judg- ments as the appropriate response.

When asked open-ended questions about how Brian’s parent should respond in this situation, all the middle-class parents said they would talk to the teacher or encourage Brian to talk to the teacher. Ms. Matthews’s response was typical of middle-class parents:

I would ask for a higher math class. I think that would be the obvious first step. And if that’s not a possibility, then I think asking for additional work, or asking if Brian could mentor one of the other children. That way he could use the knowledge that he has to help another child learn. I think that would be a good lesson for him.

Although the teachers worked hard to deter- mine the appropriate math level for each stu- dent, Ms. Matthews, like many middle-class parents, perceived herself as a better judge of her child’s needs. These parents also believed they were entitled to negotiate with teachers, seeing such requests as an “obvious first step.” At Maplewood, teachers were reluctant to change students’ placement. Yet, many middle-class students (but no working-class students) were moved up due to their parents’ persistent requests.

This entitlement to intervene prompted middle-class parents to be highly involved at

1022 American Sociological Review 79(5)

school and granted them insider status at Maplewood. Many middle-class mothers at Maplewood were full-time parents, but even employed mothers helped run volunteer pro- grams, bake sales, and evening events that raised more than $50,000 annually for the parent-teacher organization (PTO). In light of their involvement, middle-class parents were often deeply familiar with school expectations, procedures, and personnel. They also readily exchanged this information with other (typi- cally middle-class) parents during play-dates, soccer games, school events, and phone con- versations. As a result, middle-class parents knew the sequence and timing of state assess- ments, the weekly school schedule, and the procedures for requesting accommodations.

That insider status shaped middle-class parents’ beliefs about teachers&#

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