Sociology Children
by
Toby L. Parcel
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0123

Introduction

One definition of “children” suggests it is the social grouping of humans from birth to age twenty. A closely related concept, “childhood,” refers to the life stage of these individuals. During the middle of the 20th century, sociologists generally were not focused on studying children, leaving that field to psychologists, who often studied children from the perspective of developmental psychology. Subsequently, three major streams of sociological thought began to develop. The first looked at how child development was conditioned by both historical and social circumstances. The second studied how children created their own worlds and were themselves active agents, rather than passive recipients of socialization. The third highlighted the importance of societal and family investment in children. For many researchers, scholarship from psychology, economics, and demography was combined with insights from sociology to provide new information on child well-being. As a consequence, several categories for entries in this article overlap conceptually. This means that entries logically could be listed under other subheadings or duplicated across these categories. A second definition of childhood suggests that it is a socially constructed life stage, with variations in how childhood is conceived both historically and cross-culturally. This definition ties directly to the second stream of research in which children are active participants in their socialization.

Data Sources

Helpful online sources include Child Trends, the Center for Human Resource Research, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and the National Child Development Study.

  • Center for Human Resource Research.

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    The Center for Human Resource Research is the creator and archive for the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) 1979 and 1997, which are publicly available for longitudinal studies of nationally representative studies of youth who were aged fourteen to twenty-two in either of those years. The NLSY79 contains data on the children of NLSY mothers. Thousands of research studies report findings on the original surveys of adolescents and the children of the NLSY79 mothers.

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    • Child Trends.

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      Child Trends is a US nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1979 that produces and disseminates research on children. Findings cover a wide range of topics relevant to children, including poverty, child development, education, teen pregnancy, marriage, and family. They are also leaders in evaluation research relevant to children.

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      • National Child Development Study.

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        The National Child Development Study began in 1958 as a study of health and well-being of every child born in Great Britain during the week of 3 March 1958. In 1991 the research effort expanded to study the children of the original respondents. The data now include information on three generations, thus permitting analyses of social mobility and the determinants of well-being of two generations of children.

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        • Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

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          The Panel Study of Income Dynamics, by the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan, contains longitudinal data on households and children. Over three thousand studies using the data have explored topics involving household economic standing, education, marriage, and child well-being. These data are publicly available.

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          Theoretical Approaches

          We can better understand children and childhood if we use theory to illuminate crucial processes and outcomes. Bronfenbrenner 1979 and Bronfenbrenner 1989 argue for the importance of human development theory, whereas Elder 1999 and Elder and Shanahan 2006 develop sociology of the life course as both a theory and a research area. Bourdieu 1973 posits that variation in child access to cultural capital will influence their placement in adult stratification systems, whereas Coleman 1988, Coleman 1990, and Putnam 2000 highlight the vital role that social capital, or social connections among actors, plays in the well-being of both children and adults. These perspectives are not always intellectually distinct because researchers have used and combined them in new ways to develop richer, more insightful models of how children develop in a social world.

          • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1973. Cultural reproduction and social reproduction. Paper presented at the annual conference of the British Sociological Association, University of Durham, 7–10 April 1970. In Knowledge, education, and cultural change: Papers in the sociology of education. Edited by Richard K. Brown, 71–112. London: Tavistock.

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            Social and cultural resources embedded in families have implications for children’s academic success because teachers and educational institutions value familiarity with high culture. Children reared in families in which they are exposed to high cultural preferences have an advantage in upward mobility through educational institutions. Illustrations from several societies bolster the argument.

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            • Bronfenbrenner, Urie. 1979. The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              Understanding child behavior requires observation of children in natural settings in which they are interacting with adults over time. This work set the stage for later development of human ecology theory which posits that there are nested levels of influence on children, some of which are far removed from the children themselves.

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              • Bronfenbrenner, Urie. 1989. Ecological systems theory. In Six theories of child development: Revised formulations and current issues. Edited by Ross Vasta, 187–249. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

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                Bronfenbrenner argues that a child’s genetic potential interacts with institutional characteristics beginning with family characteristics, as well as with characteristics of the successively nested systems in which the child is embedded, including the school, neighborhood, and larger economy. This conceptualization suggests considerable complexity to the processes through which parental investment is accomplished.

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                • Coleman, James S. 1988. Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology 94 (Suppl.): S95–S120.

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                  Coleman argues that unless parents form bonds with their children, they will not be able to transmit optimally their own human capital to their children. Family social capital thus conditions the utility of human capital in the transmission of inequality across generations, suggesting that social capital and human capital have nonadditive effects on child well-being. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                  • Coleman, James S. 1990. Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                    This comprehensive treatment of social capital, that is, connections among actors, illustrates that such capital matters at several levels of social organization. Chapters on families and intergenerational inequality highlight the important role that social capital plays in the socialization of the young. Examples from several societies are included.

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                    • Elder, Glen H., Jr. 1999. Children of the great depression: Social change in life experience. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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                      Elder’s longitudinal panel study of Oakland, CA, children born between 1920 and 1921, as well as his study of their parents, highlights the importance of historical period in influencing life chances. The parents of these children bore the brunt of maintaining households during the Great Depression, whereas their children came into adulthood during more prosperous times, which facilitated their upward mobility.

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                      • Elder, Glen H., Jr., and Michael. J. Shanahan. 2006. The life course and human development. In Handbook of child psychology. Vol. 1, Theoretical models of human development. 6th ed. Edited by William Damon and Richard M. Lerner, 665–715. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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                        Child development does not occur in a social vacuum. The historical period into which children are born matters, as do the lives of others to whom children are linked. Experiences cumulate over time, and transitions and trajectories are influenced by social factors.

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                        • Putnam, Robert D. 2000. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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                          In this classic statement about the decline of social capital in American communities, Putnam argues that social capital is vital to the well-being of children and young people, particularly social capital in families and neighborhoods. He takes a historical perspective in analyzing why social capital in American society has declined and suggests what could be done to reverse that trend.

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                          Investment Perspectives

                          A major focus has been on patterns of investment in children, both over time and across contexts. Ariès 1962 traces changes in parental investment in children of the French elite across four centuries. Preston 1984 worries that investment in the US elderly shortchanges children, whereas Sayer, et al. 2004 finds that parental investment in children has increased over time. Schaub 2010 finds that social class differentials in parenting have decreased, although Bianchi, et al. 2004 disagrees. Heckman 2008 stresses the importance of early investment, whereas Mayer 1997 argues that the efficacy of financial investment in children has limits. Furstenberg 2005 questions the utility of social capital as a concept relevant to investment.

                          • Ariès, Phillippe. 1962. Centuries of childhood: A social history of family life. Translated from the French by Robert Baldick. New York: Knopf.

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                            This classic work traces the increase in financial and emotional investment in children of the French elite from the 16th through the 19th centuries. As these costs rose, infant mortality declined, promoting increased fertility control among this group. This work has influenced scholars from several fields including history, demography, and sociology.

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                            • Bianchi, Suzanne M., Philip N. Cohen, Sara Raley, and Kei Nomaguchi. 2004. Inequality in parental investment in child-rearing: Expenditures, time, and health. In Social inequality. Edited by Kathryn M. Neckerman, 189–219. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                              Children of college-educated parents receive greater investments in parental funds, time, and behaviors promoting child health than do children of parents who are not college educated. Although the accumulation of these differential investments is substantial, educational differentials in these investments have not increased between 1975 and 1995.

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                              • Furstenberg, Frank F. 2005. Banking on families: How families generate and distribute social capital. Journal of Marriage and Family 67.4: 809–821.

                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00177.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                Although social capital may be a useful concept in understanding families, we do not know how couples, parents, and children accumulate, manage, or deploy this capital. Measurement remains a challenge. Until both conceptual and measurement issues are resolved, the usefulness of social capital is unclear. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                • Heckman, James J. 2008. Schools, skills, and synapses. Economic Inquiry 46.3: 289–324.

                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1465-7295.2008.00163.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  An economist, Heckman argues for the importance of families in avoiding such outcomes as high school dropout, crime, teenage pregnancy, and ill health. Ability gaps develop early, and the quality of parenting counts more than family economic resources do. Early interventions are more effective in promoting well-being than later interventions. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                  • Mayer, Susan E. 1997. What money can’t buy: Family income and children’s life chances. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                    Mayer argues that although parental income has an important effect on child well-being, nonfinancial family characteristics, such as parenting, are also important. Personal characteristics reduce estimates of the effect of parental income on child outcomes; the author also derives implications for social policy in the United States.

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                                    • Preston, Samuel H. 1984. Children and the elderly: Divergent paths for America’s dependents. Demography 21.4: 435–457.

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                                      Demographer Preston shows that both public and private investment in the elderly has increased while comparable investments in children have decreased. Future public and private choices should be informed by understanding the likely outcomes of divergent investments in these two groups. Paper presented as the Presidential Address at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 3–5 May 1984. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                      • Sayer, Liana C., Suzanne M. Bianchi, and John P. Robinson. 2004. Are parents investing less in children? Trends in mothers’ and fathers’ time with children. American Journal of Sociology 110.1: 1–43.

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                                        The authors study time-use diary data for both mothers and fathers to compare parental investment in children from the mid-1960s to the late 1990s. Time with children has increased for both mothers and fathers, with mothers being more involved in developmental activities and fathers taking on additional child care and play. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                        • Schaub, Maryellen. 2010. Parenting for cognitive development from 1950 to 2000: The institutionalization of mass education and the social construction of parenting in the United States. Sociology of Education 83.1: 46–66.

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                                          This trend study finds that social-class differences in reading to young children were greater in the 1950s, with middle-class parents being more likely to invest their time than working-class parents were. By the year 2000, this social-class differential had disappeared. Maternal education is more consequential than family income in driving these patterns. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                          Family and School Investment

                                          Scholars recognize that families and schools work together to invest in children. Parcel, et al. 2010 provides helpful overviews of investment in children by both families and schools, whereas Parcel and Dufur 2001a and Parcel and Dufur 2001b explore how family and school investments combine or interact in their effects on child well-being. Dufur, et al. 2013 argues that investments in family social capital are more important than those in school social capital in affecting adolescent grades. All sources identify unanswered questions regarding how resources from two or more contexts combine to affect child well-being.

                                          • Dufur, Mikaela J., Toby L. Parcel, and Kelly P. Troutman. 2013. Does capital at home matter more than capital at school? Social capital effects on academic achievement. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 31:1–21.

                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.rssm.2012.08.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Using a large, longitudinal database containing information on adolescents, their schools, and their families, these authors evaluate the relative roles of social capital at home and at school in affecting adolescent grades. They find family social capital to be more consequential than social capital at school. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                            • Parcel, Toby L., and Mikaela J. Dufur. 2001a. Capital at home and at school: Effects on child social adjustment. Journal of Marriage and Family 63.1: 32–47.

                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00032.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              The authors argue that capital at home and at school are both important in predicting behavior problems, but they find that family, rather than school, characteristics are more consequential. They also describe how resources combine to reduce behavior problems, as well as reach a threshold in their joint effects. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                              • Parcel, Toby L., and Mikaela J. Dufur. 2001b. Capital at home and at school: Effects on student achievement. Social Forces 79.3: 881–911.

                                                DOI: 10.1353/sof.2001.0021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                The authors argue that capital at home and at school are both important in predicting these outcomes, but they find that family characteristics are more consequential than school characteristics. They also describe how resources combine to boost academic achievement, as well as reach a threshold in their joint effects. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                • Parcel, Toby L., Mikaela J. Dufur, and Rena Cornell Zito. 2010. Capital at home and at school: A review and synthesis. Journal of Marriage and Family 72.4: 828–846.

                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00733.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  This review summarizes arguments concerning how social, financial, and human capital at home and at school provide important input into child and adolescent socialization. The authors integrate literature from sociology, developmental psychology, and criminology to understand child academic achievement and child social adjustment. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                  Demographic Approaches

                                                  Demographers have been active in understanding children’s life chances, particularly children born into poverty. Hernandez 1993 and Hernandez 2004 document temporal changes in child well-being, as well as the particular challenges and benefits that children face in immigrant families. Duncan and Brooks-Gunn 1997 explores the many ways in which poor neighborhoods impact children and adolescents, whereas McLanahan 2004 argues that the second demographic transition has exacerbated inequality between children born to well-educated mothers and those born to poorly educated mothers.

                                                  • Duncan, Greg J., and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, eds. 1997. Consequences of growing up poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                                                    In eighteen chapters, demographers, developmental psychologists, and sociologists explore the many pathways through which poor neighborhoods may be working against the children who live there. The contributors pay particular attention to issues of family structure and process and provide policy recommendations based on their findings.

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                                                    • Hernandez, Donald J. 1993. America’s children: Resources from family, government, and the economy. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                                                      Using US census and survey data, Hernandez provides a detailed picture of changes in child well-being across time. He covers changes in family size, marital arrangements, and parental work as they affect children, with particular attention to the issue of child poverty.

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                                                      • Hernandez, Donald J. 2004. Demographic change and the life circumstances of immigrant families. Future of Children 14:17–36.

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                                                        Children in immigrant families are 50 percent more likely to be in poverty than are other children. Children in immigrant families are more likely to live in two-parent and extended-family households and are more likely to have fathers who work only part-time.

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                                                        • McLanahan, Sara. 2004. Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition. Demography 41.4: 607–627.

                                                          DOI: 10.1353/dem.2004.0033Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          The second demographic transition refers to the delays in marriage and fertility, increases in cohabitation and divorce, and increases in maternal employment. Children born to the most-educated mothers are becoming more advantaged, whereas children born to the least-educated mothers are becoming less advantaged, thus exacerbating inequality. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                          Valuing Children; Children as Active Agents

                                                          Zelizer 1994 uses historical data to trace the evolution of the value of children. Brannen and O’Brien 1996 argues that children are important actors in their own right and that ethnographic research is key to making sure that children’s voices are heard. James and Prout 1997 collects studies of scholars from several societies who contribute to this scholarly conversation. Adler and Adler 1998 focuses particularly on peer cultures, whereas the comprehensive treatment of children and childhood in Corsaro 2011 provides excellent grounding in several perspectives and literatures relevant to the sociology of children and childhood.

                                                          • Adler, Patricia A., and Peter Adler. 1998. Peer power: Preadolescent culture and identity. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                                            Adler and Adler study eight- to twelve-year-old children from the children’s point of view. The authors analyze friendship groups, friendship formation, popularity, time use, and relationships between boys and girls. Their focus on preadolescence provides an important look at this stage of the life course.

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                                                            • Brannen, Julia, and Margaret O’Brien. 1996. Children in families: Research and policy. Washington, DC: Falmer.

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                                                              This volume shows that childhood is an important life stage in its own right. The authors argue that children’s voices should be heard in research, childhood should be viewed as part of the social structure, and childhood should be viewed as an important stage of the life course independent of the fact that childhood precedes adulthood.

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                                                              • Corsaro, William A. 2011. The sociology of childhood. 3d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

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                                                                Corsaro covers theories of childhood, cultural and structural approaches to childhood, differing research strategies for studying children, historical views on children, as well as social changes affecting children. Includes significant coverage of children’s peer cultures, as well as attention to social problems and policy. The author integrates material on children from several societies.

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                                                                • James, Allison, and Alan Prout, eds. 1997. Constructing and reconstructing childhood: Contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood. Washington, DC: Falmer.

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                                                                  James and Prout argue that childhood is an important life stage to study and that ethnography involving children is a key method to learn about children as active agents. Contributions from several European societies portray several aspects of childhood from the points of view of children and also derive implications for social policy.

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                                                                  • Zelizer, Viviana A. R. 1994. Pricing the priceless child: The changing social value of children. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                    Even as late as the 19th century in the United States, children were still seen as having economic value. Zelizer traces how this attitude changed by the early part of the 20th century, when children came to be seen as “economically worthless” but “emotionally priceless.” The author sets her arguments in longer term and international perspectives regarding definitions of childhood.

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                                                                    Welfare State

                                                                    Compatible with perspectives on investment in children, scholars recognize that levels of welfare state support form an important part of the macro-level context in which children are reared. Esping-Anderson, et al. 2002 argues that we need a stronger welfare state to support children, as well as women and families, if children are to reach optimal productivity in adulthood, thus promoting societal well-being generally. Waldfogel 2010 chronicles Great Britain’s journey toward providing a stronger welfare state to reduce child poverty. Other studies compare the home environments and behavior problems of children across two societies with different levels of welfare support in order to infer whether levels of welfare state support affect these important child outcomes (Campbell and Parcel 2010; Parcel, et al. 2012).

                                                                    • Campbell, Lori Ann, and Toby L. Parcel. 2010. Children’s home environments in Great Britain and the United States. Journal of Family Issues 31.10: 559–584.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0192513X09350441Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Arguments focusing on the role of the welfare state suggest that parents in Great Britain may be less active in constructing children’s home environments because the more generous welfare state may render that investment unnecessary. Results suggest that parents construct these home environments similarly by country. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                      • Esping-Anderson, Gøsta, with Duncan Gallie, Anton Hemerijck, and John Myles. 2002. Why we need a new welfare state. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/0199256438.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Esping-Anderson and colleagues argue that societal investment in children is essential if they are to be well-prepared for adult roles. They also advocate for other welfare state investments such as a new gender contract and pension reforms, as well as changes in adult work arrangements.

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                                                                        • Parcel, Toby L., Lori Ann Campbell, and Wenxuan Zhong. 2012. Children’s behavior problems in the United States and Great Britain. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 53.2: 165–182.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0022146512436742Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Are parental and family effects on children’s behavior problems similar in the United States and Great Britain? Results from a comparative study of large, longitudinal databases in both countries suggest that parents are similarly important across these two societies in preventing behavior problems. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                          • Waldfogel, Jane. 2010. Britain’s war on poverty. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                                                                            Waldfogel provides detailed coverage of how Great Britain declared war on child poverty, beginning in 1999. She traces the effects of changes in their welfare state to promote child well-being and positive development. She draws comparisons with other European countries as well as the United States.

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                                                                            Welfare Reform

                                                                            An important focus for scholars has been whether welfare reform in the United States has been helpful or harmful to children. Whereas Duncan and Chase-Lansdale 2001 summarizes early insights shortly after the 1996 reform, Lichter and Jayakody 2002 points to mixed effects on children and families, as well as key unanswered questions. Taking a cultural perspective, Hays 2003 conducts ethnographic research that tells the stories of both welfare clients and caseworkers as they negotiate their changing environments. Summarizing an important experiment in Wisconsin, Duncan, et al. 2007 shows that higher levels of welfare support can be helpful to children and their families, although not all clients can make use of enhanced supports.

                                                                            • Duncan, Greg J., and P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, eds. 2001. For better and for worse: Welfare reform and the well-being of children and families. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                                                                              This book is a collection of sixteen chapters that addresses how states are implementing the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), how families and children are faring under these new conditions, and what policy directions might be pursued in the future. Both quantitative and qualitative data address these questions.

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                                                                              • Duncan, Greg J., Aletha C. Huston, and Thomas S. Weisner. 2007. Higher ground: New Hope for the working poor and their children. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                                                                                These authors report the results of a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, social experiment in the mid-1990s to evaluate whether providing a flexible package of welfare supports to adults eligible for welfare and requiring that they work would enable them to get off and stay off of welfare. The study also evaluates the effects of these supports on children.

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                                                                                • Hays, Sharon. 2003. Flat broke with children: Women in the age of welfare reform. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                  Hays’s interview and observational study of caseworkers and clients adapting to welfare reform in the United States between 1998 and 2001 highlights the challenges for both groups as they adjust to more restrictive rules involving juggling paid work and childrearing. Hays comments on how welfare systems reflect cultural values.

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                                                                                  • Lichter, Daniel T., and Rukamalie Jayakody. 2002. Welfare reform: How do we measure success? In Annual review of sociology. Vol. 28. Edited by Karen S. Cook and John Hagan, 117–141. Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.

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                                                                                    This review studies the effects of the 1996 welfare reform in the United States. A key focus is on the well-being of fragile families, single mothers, and children. Although there are positive effects of this reform, poverty remains high, and serious barriers to stable employment still exist, as well as numerous unanswered questions. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                    Location

                                                                                    Where children live matters for their development and well-being. Cahn and Carbone 2010 shows that citizens’ family values vary by state. These values are associated with differences in outcomes including investment patterns in children and teen childbearing. Parcel and Geschwender 1995 analyzes why children who live in different parts of the country show different levels of verbal facility, whereas Parcel and Dufur 2009 studies how region impacts children’s reading and mathematics achievement. Roscigno, et al. 2006 shows how location is implicated in differential educational outcomes, whereas Sampson, et al. 1999 charts neighborhood differences in social capital. Ream 2005 and DeLuca and Dayton 2009 document that children’s geographical mobility disrupts social capital that can be helpful in child socialization and achievement.

                                                                                    • Cahn, Naomi R., and June Carbone. 2010. Red families v. blue families: Legal polarization and the creation of culture. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                      Cahn and Carbone, both law professors, detail the regional polarization of family values that partly coincides with popular notions of “red” and “blue” states. They describe implications for children, including differing patterns of investment in children, timing of childbearing, and issues in single-parent, two-parent, and same-sex families.

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                                                                                      • DeLuca, Stefanie, and Elizabeth Dayton. 2009. Switching social contexts: The effects of housing mobility and school choice programs on youth outcomes. Annual Review of Sociology 35:457–491.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-070308-120032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        These authors review how changes in child and adolescent school and/or neighborhood context may change the capital that children can access. They find that children who changed neighborhoods had improved surroundings, but that better neighborhood characteristics did not promote achievement. Effects on social adjustment also are not substantial. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                        • Parcel, Toby L., and Mikaela J. Dufur. 2009. Family and school capital explaining regional variation in reading and math achievement. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 27.3: 157–176.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.rssm.2009.04.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Why do children in the US South and West score lower on achievement tests than do children in other regions? Differences in family and child social and human capital explain differences in mathematics and reading achievement for boys. Explanations for regional differences in girls’ reading achievement are more complex. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                          • Parcel, Toby L., and Laura E. Geschwender. 1995. Explaining southern disadvantage in verbal facility among young children. Social Forces 73.3: 841–872.

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                                                                                            Why do children in the Deep South score lower on tests of verbal facility compared to children elsewhere? Regional differences in maternal race and ethnicity are important for girls. Among boys, maternal working conditions, children’s home environments, and other aspects of maternal background are also consequential. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                            • Ream, Robert K. 2005. Uprooting children: Mobility, social capital, and Mexican American underachievement. New York: LFB Scholarly.

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                                                                                              Children’s social capital will be of limited value if it cannot be transformed into human capital, for example, their educational attainment. When children’s social networks are disrupted because of frequent residential moves, this conversion process is at risk, as illustrated in this study of Mexican American children.

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                                                                                              • Roscigno, Vincent J., Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, and Martha L. Crowley. 2006. Education and the inequalities of place. Social Forces 84.4: 2121–2145.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0108Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Students in rural and inner-city areas are more likely to drop out of school and achieve less than are students from the suburbs. Both inner-city and rural areas show lower levels of both family and school resources, differences that help to explain the educational discrepancies. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                • Sampson, Robert J., Jeffrey D. Morenoff, and Felton Earls. 1999. Beyond social capital: Spatial dynamics of collective efficacy for children. American Sociological Review 64.5: 633–660.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2657367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Tying Coleman’s notions of social capital (see Coleman 1988 and Coleman 1990, cited under Theoretical Approaches) to the study of communities, these authors identify three dimensions of neighborhoods relevant to child socialization: stability, affluence, and disadvantage. Neighborhood stability and affluence predict close and reciprocal exchange, whereas higher levels of neighborhood disadvantage predict lower levels of social control of children. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                  Parental Employment

                                                                                                  Early sociological conceptualizations focused on how families derived social status from paternal occupations, with socialization of children varying depending on white- versus blue-collar jobs. By the 1990s, scholars, including Parcel and Menaghan 1990, Parcel and Menaghan 1994a, and Parcel and Menaghan 1994b, were addressing both maternal and paternal working conditions as being influential in predicting both child cognition and social adjustment. In more recent work, Han, et al. 2010 has identified parental work schedules as consequential, with particular attention to their effects on adolescent social behaviors.

                                                                                                  • Han, Wen-Jui, Daniel P. Miller, and Jane Waldfogel. 2010. Parental work schedules and adolescent risky behaviors. Developmental Psychology 46.5: 1245–1267.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1037/a0020178Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Work schedules of parents matter for child socialization. Thirteen- and fourteen-year-old children are more likely to engage in risky behaviors if mothers work nights. These risks are stronger for boys than for girls, and work through mechanisms including reduced maternal time with children and weaker home environments Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                    • Parcel, Toby L., and Elizabeth G. Menaghan. 1990. Maternal working conditions and children’s verbal facility: Studying the intergenerational transmission of inequality from mothers to young children. In Special issue: Social structure and the individual. Edited by James S. House and Jeylan T. Mortimer. Social Psychology Quarterly 53.2: 132–147.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2786675Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Young children’s verbal facility is enhanced when their home environments are strong and when their mothers work high part-time work hours, are better paid, and have high mental abilities. Children’s verbal facility is lower when mothers persistently work overtime hours and have multiple children. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                      • Parcel, Toby L., and Elizabeth G. Menaghan. 1994a. Early parental work, family social capital, and early childhood outcomes. American Journal of Sociology 99.4: 972–1009.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1086/230369Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        These authors assess whether there are negative effects on children if mothers and fathers both work when children are young. Although combinations of parental work and family characteristics can threaten child well-being, worries about the dangers of maternal work when children are young have been overgeneralized. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                        • Parcel, Toby L., and Elizabeth G. Menaghan. 1994b. Parents’ jobs and children’s lives. New York: de Gruyter.

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                                                                                                          These authors trace the effects of parental work, family structure, and parent and child characteristics on behavior problems and cognition among young children. They analyze both maternal and paternal work and develop longitudinal models that show how combinations of changes at home and at work influence child well-being.

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                                                                                                          Family Structure and Process

                                                                                                          Both family structure and family process provide important elements of children’s socialization environments. McLanahan and Sandefur 1994 shows that single parenting can have negative effects on adolescent academic achievement as well as social behavior. Downey 2001 summarizes evidence suggesting that children in families with more children have lower levels of intellectual development because parental resources are stretched more thinly in larger families, whereas Sun and Li 2009 finds that parental divorce is less consequential in larger families than in smaller ones. McLanahan 2009 finds that the reproduction of poverty across generations is class based, whereas Conger, et al. 2010 summarizes a large body of research showing that socioeconomic status affects both parenting and child outcomes.

                                                                                                          • Conger, Rand D., Katherine J. Conger, and Monica J. Martin. 2010. Socioeconomic status, family processes, and individual development. Journal of Marriage and Family 72.3: 685–704.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00725.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            This review demonstrates that socioeconomic status is a predictor of both parenting and child development. Family economic hardship causes emotional and behavior problems and reduces cognitive outcomes for children operating through mechanisms such as inconsistent and uninvolved parenting. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                            • Downey, Douglas B. 2001. Number of siblings and intellectual development: The resource dilution explanation. American Psychologist 56.6–7: 497–504.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.56.6-7.497Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              The resource dilution perspective argues that parental time, energy, and financial resources are divided more finely in families with greater numbers of children. Because parental resources are important in determining children’s intellectual development and educational success, such dilution is consequential. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                              • McLanahan, Sara. 2009. Fragile families and the reproduction of poverty. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Research 621.1: 111–131.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0002716208324862Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                The reproduction of poverty from one generation to the next is a class-based phenomenon. Instability in marital partners and multipartner fertility are important mechanisms through which poverty is reproduced across generations. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                • McLanahan, Sara, and Gary D. Sandefur. 1994. Growing up with a single parent: What hurts, what helps. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                  In this classic work, the authors combine data from several sources to document the deleterious effects that growing up with a single parent can have on adolescent academic and social well-being. Both differential economic resources and differences in parenting between these two family forms explain different outcomes among adolescents.

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                                                                                                                  • Sun, Yongmin, and Yuanzhang Li. 2009. Parental divorce, sibship size, family resources, and children’s academic performance. Social Science Research 38.3: 622–634.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2009.03.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Using a large database, these authors find that the effect of parental divorce on child academic performance is weaker for larger than smaller families. Variations in financial, cultural, social, and human resources across these families account for the differences in educational attainment. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                    Home Environments

                                                                                                                    Children’s home environments are an important aspect of the socialization environments that they experience. Bradley, et al. 1989 calls our attention to whether children experience appropriate intellectual stimulation, whether homes are reasonably clean and safe, and whether mothers interact with their children in warm and supportive ways. Hart and Risley 1995 documents social class differentials in the amount and complexity of verbal interactions in the home, whereas Haurin, et al. 2002 argues that home ownership promotes child well-being. Menaghan and Parcel 1991 and Menaghan and Parcel 1995 show how maternal working conditions and family structure influence both levels and changes in children’s home environments.

                                                                                                                    • Bradley, Robert H., Bettye M. Caldwell, Stephen L. Rock, et al. 1989. Home environment and cognitive development in the first 3 years of life: A collaborative study involving six sites and three ethnic groups in North America. Developmental Psychology 25.2: 217–235.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.25.2.217Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Home environments that encourage child cognition, are affectively warm, and meet reasonable standards for safety and cleanliness are important for child development across place and ethnic groups. If household socioeconomic status is low and home environments are weak, children are particularly at risk developmentally. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                      • Hart, Betty, and Todd R. Risley. 1995. Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore: Brookes.

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                                                                                                                        Very young children experience a considerable variation in the quantity of words and types of sentences to which they are exposed according to their social class. These differences are associated with predictable differences in children’s verbal capabilities by age three.

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                                                                                                                        • Haurin, Donald R., Toby L. Parcel, and R. Jean Haurin. 2002. Does homeownership affect child outcomes? Real Estate Economics 30.4: 635–666.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/1540-6229.t01-2-00053Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          The authors show that home ownership promotes child well-being, independent of a large number of relevant background factors. Although the analysis cannot rule out all alternative explanations, actual home ownership appears to have a positive effect on children. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                          • Menaghan, Elizabeth G., and Toby L. Parcel. 1991. Determining children’s home environments: The impact of maternal characteristics and current occupational and family conditions. Journal of Marriage and Family 53.2: 417–431.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/352909Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Mothers with more complex jobs create stronger home environments for their young children, as do mothers with higher levels of schooling, stronger internal locus of control, and higher levels of self-esteem. Families with more children create weaker home environments for children. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                            • Menaghan, Elizabeth G., and Toby L. Parcel. 1995. Social sources of change in children’s home environments: The effects of parental occupational experiences and family conditions. Journal of Marriage and Family 57.1: 69–84.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/353817Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Young children’s home environments do not remain constant during childhood. When additional children are born, when mothers experience divorce, or when mothers continue as single parents, home environments weaken. Children whose mothers take low-complexity jobs also experience a weakening of their home environments. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                              Schools

                                                                                                                              Schools are an important aspect of children’s socialization environments. Grubb 2008 and Grubb 2009 argue that there are limits to how important financial investment at school is to promoting learning and achievement, and that both families and schools are importance contexts for investment in student academic outcomes Logan, et al. 2012 documents how residential segregation by class and race is replicated at school. Jæger 2009 and Jæger 2011 argue that extracurricular activities promote educational outcomes in Denmark, although the effects maybe modest in the United States.

                                                                                                                              • Grubb, W. Norton. 2008. Families and schools raising children: The inequitable effects of family background on schooling outcomes. In Raising children: Emerging needs, modern risks, and social responses. Edited by Jill D. Berrick and Neil Gilbert, 221–249. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195310122.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Families and schools are important contexts for investment in student outcomes. We need to know which student outcomes are most impacted by which combinations of resources at home and at school. The author favors policies that boost families as well as schools, noting that policies to “fix” either one or the other institution will be ineffective.

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                                                                                                                                • Grubb, W. Norton. 2009. The money myth: School resources, outcomes, and equity. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                                                                                                                                  To improve educational outcomes, financial capital at school is necessary but not sufficient. Although simple resources (e.g., pupil–teacher ratio) may be relevant, it is also necessary to study compound (e.g., types of teacher experience), complex (e.g., teaching techniques) and abstract (e.g., school climate) resources.

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                                                                                                                                  • Jæger, Mads Meier. 2009. Equal access but unequal outcomes: Cultural capital and educational choice in a meritocratic society. Social Forces 87.4: 1943–1971.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/sof.0.0192Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Cultural capital improves educational success in Denmark. For this to happen, parents must possess cultural capital and transmit it to their children, and their children must convert this capital to academic outcomes. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                    • Jæger, Mads Meier. 2011. Does cultural capital really affect academic achievement? New evidence from combined sibling and panel data. Sociology of Education 84.4: 281–298.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0038040711417010Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Cultural capital affects students’ achievement, with indicators reflecting “highbrow” culture and reading habits more consequential for upper socioeconomic status (SES) students and indicators reflecting concerted cultivation more consequential for lower SES students. The effect of cultural capital on academic achievement may be modest. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                      • Logan, John R., Elisabeta Minca, and Sinem Adar. 2012. The geography of inequality: Why separate means unequal in American public schools. Sociology of Education 85.3: 287–301.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0038040711431588Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        When parents choose where they and their children live, they often simultaneously choose the schools that their children will attend. Neighborhoods with high levels of racial and social class residential segregation will have schools that reflect neighborhood characteristics. . Public schools are both separate and unequal. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                        Social Class

                                                                                                                                        Lareau 2011 disentangles the effects of race and class on child achievement as the author argues that, regardless of race, children in middle- and upper-middle-class homes experience advantages in socialization that working-class children do not. Chin and Phillips 2004 reinforces these conclusions. Covay and Carbonaro 2010 and Bennett, et al. 2012 suggest similarities between child activity participation by social class and/or differing parental motivations for placing children in activities. Tough 2008 reinforces the importance of early investment in children to promote academic success and documents one demonstration of how parental resources can be supplemented and/or replaced by community intervention.

                                                                                                                                        • Bennett, Pamela R., Amy Lutz, and Lakshmi Jayaram. 2012. Beyond the schoolyard: The role of parenting logics, financial resources, and social institutions in the social class gap in structured activity participation. Sociology of Education 85.2: 131–157.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0038040711431585Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          These authors find similarity by social class in parental considerations regarding participation in structured activities. Regardless of class, parents focus on keeping children active, socializing, and fostering their personal development. Working-class parents are more concerned with ensuring child safety and social mobility. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                          • Chin, Tiffani, and Meredith Phillips. 2004. Social reproduction and child-rearing practices: Social class, children’s agency, and the summer activity gap. Sociology of Education 77.3: 185–210.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/003804070407700301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Chin and Phillips study how several forms of capital affect children’s participation in organized summer activities. They find that class differences in participation are a function of differences in financial resources, parental knowledge about nurturing children’s interests, and information about activity availability. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                            • Covay, Elizabeth, and William Carbonaro. 2010. After the bell: Participation in extracurricular activities, classroom behavior, and academic achievement. Sociology of Education 83.1: 20–45.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/0038040709356565Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Covay and Carbonaro address Annette Lareau’s arguments (Lareau 2011) with a qualitative study of children’s extracurricular activities during elementary school. They find that working-class children participate in more extracurricular activities than one might infer from Lareau and that extracurricular academic activities promote noncognitive skill acquisition. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                              • Lareau, Annette. 2011. Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. 2d ed. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                Lareau finds that middle-class children are advantaged because their parents engage in “concerted cultivation” (p. 2). Lower-income parents encourage free play and “the accomplishment of natural growth” (p. 3). Her follow-up shows that children who received the most cultivation later have positive educational and occupational experiences. Originally published in 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                • Tough, Paul. 2008. Whatever it takes: Geoffrey Canada’s quest to change Harlem and America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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                                                                                                                                                  In this journalist’s account of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Tough shows how a comprehensive set of services for low-income households in Harlem both shape and supplement traditional parental socialization, beginning prenatally. The book raises the question of whether institutions outside the family can substitute for parental influences.

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                                                                                                                                                  Adolescents and Networks

                                                                                                                                                  Adolescence is the life stage of children between the ages of thirteen and nineteen; researchers also acknowledge eleven- and twelve-year-olds as early adolescents. Peers become increasingly important during adolescence as these children spend more time away from home. Haynie 2001 documents how network characteristics condition the relationship between delinquent friends and adolescent delinquency, whereas Offer and Schneider 2007 points to the positive effects of the social capital that adolescents can generate. Crosnoe and Cavanagh 2010 and Crosnoe and Johnson 2011 summarize both theoretical and empirical literatures pointing to the importance of multiple contexts in the socialization of adolescents as well as to unanswered questions.

                                                                                                                                                  • Crosnoe, Robert, and Shannon E. Cavanagh. 2010. Families with children and adolescents: A review, critique, and future agenda. Journal of Marriage and Family 72.3: 594–611.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00720.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    The authors note the prevalence of studies linking both family structure and family process to child well-being. Children are embedded in multiple social structures, including neighborhoods and schools; forces for social selection differentially embed children in either favorable or unfavorable contexts. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Crosnoe, Robert, and Monica K. Johnson. 2011. Research on adolescence in the twenty-first century. Annual Review of Sociology 37:439–460.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-081309-150008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      This review takes a life-course perspective and emphasizes that adolescents are embedded in both families and schools and that a better understanding is needed of how social and biological influences combine to affect adolescent well-being. The authors also discuss how adolescence is linked to other life stages and how economic and social changes are consequential. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Haynie, Dana L. 2001. Delinquent peers revisited: Does network structure matter? American Journal of Sociology 106.4: 1013–1057.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1086/320298Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Adolescents exhibit more delinquency when their friends are delinquent, but characteristics of adolescent networks condition this relationship. When adolescents are less central within their networks, when the networks are less dense, and when adolescents are personally less popular, delinquency will be reduced. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Offer, Shira, and Barbara Schneider. 2007. Children’s role in generating social capital. Social Forces 85.3: 1125–1142.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/sof.2007.0049Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Although James Coleman (see Coleman 1988 and Coleman 1990, cited under Theoretical Approaches) argues that parents form social bonds with other parents, this study finds that adolescent friendships can motivate parent-to-parent connections, thus creating social capital that might not otherwise exist. These findings point to children as active agents who may play a vital role in strengthening their own social environments. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                          Adolescent Romantic Relationships and Sexuality

                                                                                                                                                          Understanding adolescent romantic and sexual relationships is important for understanding this life stage more generally. Joyner and Udry 2000 argues that girls’ higher levels of depression in adolescence is due to their romantic involvements, whereas Martin 1996 finds that girls’ drop in self-esteem at adolescence can be explained by how they feel about their bodies and their sexual selves. Giordano, et al. 2006 finds that, contrary to stereotypes, boys feel less confident and powerful than girls when navigating romantic relationships. Pascoe 2007 studies how male adolescents construct masculinity in high school. Elliott 2012 finds that parents try to protect their teenagers from the perceived risks associated with adolescent sex and do so by contrasting other teenagers who are hypersexual with their own children, whom they define as asexual. Parents also worry about the influence of the larger sexualized culture.

                                                                                                                                                          • Elliott, Sinikka. 2012. Not my kid: What parents believe about the sex lives of their teenagers. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                            Using data from almost fifty interviews of parents—mostly mothers—of teenagers, Elliott studies how parents talk to their adolescents about sex. Parents often portray their own children as asexual but worry about the influences of a sexualized culture and hypersexualized adolescent peers. They attempt to discourage adolescent sexuality but reproduce inequality among peers in doing so.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Giordano, Peggy C., Monica A. Longmore, and Wendy D. Manning. 2006. Gender and the meanings of adolescent romantic relationships: A focus on boys. American Sociological Review 71.2: 260–287.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/000312240607100205Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Using structured surveys of almost one thousand male and female adolescents who were dating and in-depth interviews of a subset of these, these authors find that boys are less confident than girls in navigating romantic relationships, are similarly engaged emotionally, and perceive girls to have more power within the relationships. These findings are counter to stereotypes regarding male adolescents’ power and disengagement in relationships. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Joyner, Kara, and J. Richard Udry. 2000. You don’t bring me anything but down: Adolescent romance and depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 41.4: 369–391.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/2676292Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Using a national sample of over eight thousand adolescents, Joyner and Udry find that adolescents who enter romantic relationships are more depressed than those who do not. Among those in relationships, girls are more depressed than boys. Sex differences in adolescent depression can be explained importantly by romantic involvement. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Martin, Karin A. 1996. Puberty, sexuality, and the self: Boys and girls at adolescence. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Using the results of fifty-five semistructured interviews of fourteen- to nineteen-year-old girls and boys, Martin argues that girls’ drop in self-esteem at adolescence can be explained by how they feel about their bodies and sexual selves. She contrasts male and female adolescent narratives regarding puberty and sexuality to explain their differing sense of selves at this life stage.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Pascoe, C. J. 2007. Dude, you’re a fag: Masculinity and sexuality in high school. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Using an ethnographic study of a northern California high school, Pascoe argues that the high school years are the life stage during which the development of masculinity takes place among US youth. High school boys engage in both verbal and behavioral strategies to highlight their own masculinity and denigrate others whose behaviors they deem to be homosexual or negative.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Race and Gender

                                                                                                                                                                    Researchers have become increasingly aware of how race and gender are socially constructed differences with important implications for child socialization. The classic study of differences in children’s play in Thorne 1993 illustrates the importance of ethnography in uncovering how children create and question gender. Eder, et al. 1995 shows how middle school children use language and how they construct gendered cultures. Martin 1998 uses observational methods to illuminate how boys and girls learn to handle their bodies differently, whereas Messner 2000 studies how children construct gender within the larger context of social structures and culture. Kane 2012 argues that parents both replicate and resist gender stereotypes for their children. Ferguson 2000 demonstrates how schools define young black boys as “bad,” in contrast to the children’s more optimistic self-portrayals. Burton, et al. 2010 identifies studies speaking to the dynamics of socialization within minority families, whereas Farkas 1996 argues for the importance of building habits, skills, and styles, particularly in reading, to promote minority academic achievement.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Burton, Linda M., Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Victor Ray, Rose Buckelew, and Elizabeth Hordge Freeman. 2010. Critical race theories, colorism, and the decade’s research on families of color. Journal of Marriage and Family 72.3: 440–459.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00712.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      How do minority families socialize their children? Early inquiries focus on African American socialization; more recent studies include Latino families, immigrant families of color, and Asian American families. Little research suggests that minority children are socialized into a culture that is that of the mainstream. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Eder, Donna, Catherine C. Evans, and Stephen Parker. 1995. School talk: Gender and adolescent culture. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                        These researchers spent three years listening to middle school students in order to learn about their culture and language. They determine how adolescents construct gendered identities and how cliques and social hierarchies form and dissolve. Male socialization produces boys’ insensitivity toward girls, with implications for male competitiveness in adult life.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Farkas, George. 1996. Human capital or cultural capital? Ethnicity and poverty groups in an urban school district. New York: de Gruyter.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Farkas argues that skills, habits, and styles—all elements of cultural capital—are critical in explaining race and ethnic differentials in school success. He advocates for the importance of building reading skills of low-achieving students and chronicles his efforts to implement the Reading One-to-One program in the Dallas public schools.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Ferguson, Ann Arnett. 2000. Bad boys: Public schools in the making of black masculinity. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                            An ethnographic study of black boys in elementary school in which the author argues that adults define young black boys as troublemakers, thus reducing adult educational investment in them, which reinforces initial behavioral and academic deficits. These negative images are in contrast to the boys’ more optimistic images of themselves.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Kane, Emily W. 2012. The gender trap: Parents and the pitfalls of raising boys and girls. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Kane listens to parents telling their stories of socializing children in a gendered world. The author finds that parents resist the gendering of their children while also reproducing gendered childhoods, and she documents the tension between resisting gendered stereotypes and letting children direct themselves.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Martin, Karin A. 1998. Becoming a gendered body: Practices of preschools. American Sociological Review 63.4: 494–511.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/2657264Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Preschools play a significant role in creating different behaviors for boys and girls. Instructions regarding behavior such as controlling voices or wearing clothing differentiate boys and girls beyond initial behaviors that are often less differentiated by gender. These instructions are one example of a “hidden curriculum.” Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Messner, Michael A. 2000. Barbie girls versus sea monsters: Children constructing gender. Gender and Society 14.6: 765–784.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/089124300014006004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Observing a soccer ceremony involving four- and five-year-old children provides an opportunity to understand how children “do gender” through their interactions, how gender is structured for the children, and how the larger culture influences both the interactions and the social structure. Children are seen as active agents in the construction of gender. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Thorne, Barrie. 1993. Gender play: Girls and boys in school. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    In this seminal work, Thorne applies feminist perspectives to her ethnographic study of elementary school children’s play groups. She argues that gender is socially constructed and that children themselves actively create and challenge gendered meanings and structures.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Social Behavior

                                                                                                                                                                                    Child and adolescent social behavior is an important dimension of their well-being. Rogers, et al. 1991 argues that social control is transmitted in the family across generations through maternal working conditions and maternal mastery, whereas Parcel and Menaghan 1993 finds that paternal occupational complexity is also helpful and that increases in family size are detrimental. Dufur, et al. 2008 and Dufur, et al. 2013 find that social capital at home is more consequential than social capital at school in predicting child behavior problems as well as adolescent alcohol and marijuana use. Hoffmann and Dufur 2008 finds that school resources can compensate for weaker parental attachment in predicting adolescent delinquency. McLeod and Kaiser 2004 demonstrates the importance of childhood behavior problems by documenting their negative implications for adolescent educational attainment.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Dufur, Mikaela J., Toby L. Parcel, and Benjamin A. McKune. 2008. Capital and context: Using social capital at home and at school to predict child social adjustment. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 49.2: 146–161.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/002214650804900203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Social capital theory suggests that social capital in the family and social capital at school may both influence child behavior problems. This study shows that family social capital does predict behavior problems, whereas school social capital does not. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dufur, Mikaela J., Toby L. Parcel, and Benjamin A. McKune. 2013. Does capital at home matter more than capital at school? The case of adolescent alcohol and marijuana use. Journal of Drug Issues 43.1: 85–102.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0022042612462220Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        What are the relative roles of family and school social capital in determining adolescent alcohol and marijuana use? The authors find that social capital at home is important, whereas social capital at school is not. They suggest that parental communication with adolescents around substance use is an important deterrent to adolescent substance abuse.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hoffmann, John P., and Mikaela J. Dufur. 2008. Family and school capital effects on delinquency: Substitutes or complements? Sociological Perspectives 51.1: 29–62.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1525/sop.2008.51.1.29Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Although both families and schools are important contexts for influencing adolescent social behavior, their effects are not necessarily additive. High-quality school environments can compensate for poor parental attachment and engagement in discouraging adolescent delinquency. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • McLeod, Jane D., and Karen Kaiser. 2004. Childhood emotional and behavioral problems and educational attainment. American Sociological Review 69.5: 636–658.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/000312240406900502Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Behavioral and emotional problems in childhood have long-term consequences for adolescent academic attainment. Early behavior problems negatively affect the likelihood of high school graduation. If students attain high school degrees, early externalizing problems reduce the likelihood of enrolling in college. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Parcel, Toby L., and Elizabeth G. Menaghan. 1993. Family social capital and children’s behavior problems. Social Psychology Quarterly 56.2: 120–135.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/2787001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Family social capital influences young children’s behavior problems. Paternal occupational complexity is helpful in reducing behavior problems, as is maternal mastery. Positive changes in home environments are protective, whereas the birth of additional children increases behavior problems. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Rogers, Stacy, Toby L. Parcel, and Elizabeth G. Menaghan. 1991. The effects of maternal working conditions and mastery on child behavior problems: Studying the intergenerational transmission of social control. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 32.2: 145–164.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/2137149Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Young children’s behavior problems are affected by maternal working conditions as well as by characteristics of mothers and their families. Mothers with jobs in which they have limited involvement with people and high involvement with inanimate objects report a higher number of child-behavior problems. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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