Sociology 352 The Family May 8, 2009 Prof. Brines Family Interaction in Working Class Households Restricted Code and “Natural Growth” Childrearing The Case of Harold McAllister (Lareau, Chapter 7) The language of daily life in the McAllister household keeps things short and simple.
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May 8, 2009
Family Interaction in Working Class Households
Restricted Code and “Natural Growth” Childrearing
Harold picks up a plain blue beach towel in the bottom rack. He holds it up. His dad says, “You want a plain one?” Harold nods. His dad then wanders down the aisle. He picks up a peach towel set, looks at it, and says, “These come in a set but they don’t have a big towel.” (Researcher infers that Mr McAllister thinks this is a better buy).
Harold looks at the peach towel set and then firmly shakes his head. “Them girl colors,” he says. His dad picks up the set and raises it, suggesting that Harold is wrong and should get it… Harold shakes his head again and says, “Girl colors.” His dad picks up the blue towel again and unfolds it. Harold shakes his head; he says, “It big.”
The Bottom Line according to Bernstein:
If you can't handle elaborated code, you are not going to succeed in the educational system.
P. Bourdieu, 1986:
Forms of knowledge, “tastes,” or demeanor that give a person fluency in a society’s upper-status culture. Upper-middle class parents provide children with cultural capital, the attitudes and knowledge that make the school a comfortable, familiar place in which they can succeed easily.
“Human capital”: The set of skills or vocational competencies that one acquires in school (or on the job) that boosts a person’s productivity
“Social capital”: The number of people you can count on to provide support, and the resources those people have at their disposal.
Families, Schools and Opportunity
It matters how parents attempt to intervene:
Appeals to the mission of the institution
Exploitation of social capital, especially “weak ties”
Visible effort on part of parents
Prompt action and compliance with school routines (kid gets to school on time, permission slips returned, etc.)
“I don’t want to jump into anything and find it is the wrong thing.”
Note caution and self-doubt when it comes to confronting schools and their “experts”
Monetarily: Stacey Marshall’s mom hired testers to re-test Stacey’s IQ
Time: High search and information costs, and parents have to maintain their social capital
The latter costs are borne mostly by mothers.
TV Reality Show: Nanny 911!