Class and American Families

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photoSociologist Annette Lareau spent years parked in the middle of the intimate family lives of American families — upper middle class, working class, and poor. Treat me "like the family dog" she told them, as she watched, up close, how these families raised their children.

What she found were large and consequential class distinctions in styles of child rearing. Entitled middle class kids were scheduled to the max and taught to question authority. Free and easy-going poor and working class kids were taught to love their families - and obey. Each made sense, but the advantages flowing to the more affluent style, she says, are huge.

Hear about a provocative new take on class and childhood in America.


Annette Lareau, fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, a California think tank, and professor of sociology at the University of Maryland. She is author of "Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life" and "Home Advantage: Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education."

Charles Willie, professor emeritus, Harvard's Graduate School of Education. He is the author or editor of over 100 articles and 30 books on issues of race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, education, urban communities, and family relations.

This program aired on March 23, 2006.


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