The remarkable centrality of Unequal Childhoods

I had the privilege of introducing Annette Lareau at our department’s annual Rosenberg Forum. She is the current president of the American Sociological Association and the author of the book Unequal Childhoods: Race, Class, and Family Life.

Her talk was about exciting new research into the reproduction of social class through parents’ selection of schools and neighborhoods. But to set it up I showed the place of Unequal Childhoods in the citation network of sociology journals created by Neal Caren. The network includes the works most cited in 5,471 articles in sociology journals in the years 2008-2012, with lines connecting works cited in the same articles, and colors for the clusters of works commonly cited together. The size of the nodes represents times cited.

In this version I labeled the bigger clusters either with a term for the subfield (e.g., Religion) or key work (e.g., Bowling Alone). Click on the image to enlarge my version, or see it in full here, with the details and data.

PowerPoint PresentationI am amazed by the centrality of Unequal Childhoods, which isn’t part of a big cluster but has thick ties to a bunch of different ones, which is why it’s in the center. These are the works that Unequal Childhoods was cited with five times or more:

Hays S 1996 Cultural Contradicti 16
Blau P 1967 Am Occupational Stru 14
Bianchi SM 2006 Changing Rhythms Ame 13
Stone P 2007 Opting Out Why Women 12
Blair-loy M 2003 Competing Devotions 12
Bourdieu P 1977 Reprod ED Soc Cultue 12
Dimaggio P 1982 Am Sociol Rev 11
Lamont Michele 1988 Sociological Theory 10
Farkas G 2003 Annu Rev Sociol 9
Edin K 2005 Promises I Can Keep 9
Bourdieu P 1984 Distinctions Social 9
Hochschild Arlie R 1989 2 Shift Working Pare 8
Mclanahan Sara 1994 Growing Single Paren 8
Hochschild AR 1997 Time Bind Work Becom 8
Swidler A 1986 Am Sociol Rev 8
Townsend NW 2002 Package Deal 8
Bourdieu P 1986 Hdb Theory Res Socio 8
Bowles S 1976 Sch Capitalist AM 7
Bourdieu P 1990 Logic Practice Trans 7
Jacobs JA 2004 Time Divide Family G 7
Sewell W 1975 ED Occupation Earnin 7
Downey DB 1995 Am Sociol Rev 7
Jencks Christopher 1972 Inequality Reassessm 7
Raftery AE 1995 Sociol Methodol 5

* * *

That’s some reach!


4 thoughts on “The remarkable centrality of Unequal Childhoods

  1. What an cool graphic… This book gives good insight into many key aspects of our society. I am currently an English teacher in Chile, and one of my students asked for book suggestions that would teach him about American culture… Unequal Childhoods was at the top of my list.


  2. I know this is not the place for a review; however, I just finished the book and found it a maudlin hodgepodge of what the author believes, without any basis on reality. The differentiation between middle class vs “working class and lower class” is not based on any $ annual income given in Appendix A but what she felt was a separator. Her romanticization of the working class is so very 1920s like. By the time, I came to Part III, I was ready to scream. It was as if the cognitive ability of the children had no role to play, but parental intervention in school was the most important factor! HELLO! No amount of motherly intervention would make an iota of difference. If you want to help, help them with some difficult-to-understand concepts.

    Please Gabrille157, do not believe even one moment that this book gives even one insight to a key aspect of our society. There are big class divisions between the 1% and the middle classes, but the middle classes are not born on the third base. The working classes are more likely to be middle classes. The educational success is driven by one major influence, cognitive ability, which is driven by genetics. The SES has secondary influence, in the sense your parents provide you a genetic freebee.

    I am disappointed in this upbeat review of a mundane book.


    1. I think vijay is one of the Charles Murray/race realist/HBD/IQ types…he’s left several comments all obliquely pointing to race/genetics on several posts…but I’m probably wrong because I’m one of those non-realist liberals who isn’t convinced by the Murray zealots…


Comments welcome (may be moderated)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s