Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Working Class Family Patterns vs. Middle Class and Poor

This is a thought inspired by putting together Annette Lareau's Unequal Childhoods with Edin and Kefalas' Promises I Can Keep. Lareau found that the middle class tend to raise their kids one way, while the working class and poor raise theirs another way. She thought there might be a child rearing difference between the working class and the poor, but it didn't turn out that way.

Edin and Kefalas found that poor women see children as a stage on the way to marriage, which the authors implicitly contrast with the middle class norm of marriage as a step toward children. They did not study working class families in this ethnography.

So if the working class does not differ from the poor in how they raise their children, how do they differ from the poor in family life? My guess: the working class are more likely to marry before the kids are born, even if not before they are conceived. The working class is like the poor in child rearing, but like the middle class in marriage.

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