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Annette Laureau on Reaching Roots for Parents podcast Episode 20

The Impact of Social Status in Childhood

E20 | 45:56

Annette Lareau–Author, Professor of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania


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Annette Lareau is an Author and a Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania who studies topics on family life and social status. Annette has explored various related topics in her books ranging from the impacts of social status such as class and race on children, and how to help parents decide where to live and where to send their children to school.

In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr., in his, I have a dream speech expressed hope for equality and freedom of all. He called for African Americans to be offered equal civil and economic rights and opportunities as everyone else. We are now almost 60 years forward – how much of this dream has come true?  Annette Lareau studied 88 African American, and white families to understand the impact of how social class makes a difference in children’s lives. 10 years later, Lareau revisited these families – she studied their awareness of social class, high school experiences and the effect of organized activities as they grew up.

Looking at pathways each of their lives had followed, Annette says, “their lives had diverged in a profound way” and she wrote about the influence of social class and race on their lives in the second edition of her book Unequal Childhoods.

In this episode, we talk to Annette about the impact, benefits and disadvantages that social class has on our education and life – who we will marry, where we will live and how we find jobs.

Raised in California, Annette received her doctorate from the University of California – Berkeley.  She has served as the President of the American Sociological Association and her books have received numerous awards. Her book Unequal Childhoods was discussed by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers and was covered by David Brooks of the New York Times.


Resources & Links

Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life

Home Advantage: Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education

Journeys Through Ethnography: Realistic Account of Fieldwork


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