Sociology of Education
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Published By Sage Publications

1939-8573, 0038-0407
Updated Wednesday, 20 October 2021

2021 ◽  
pp. 003804072110484
Bailey A. Brown

Expanded school-choice policies have weakened the traditional link between residence and school assignment. These policies have created new school options and new labor for families to manage and divide. Drawing on interviews with 90 mothers and 12 fathers of elementary-age children, I demonstrate that mothers across class, racial, and ethnic backgrounds absorb the labor of school decision-making. Working-class mothers emphasize self-sacrifice and search for schools that will keep their children safe. Middle-class mothers intensively research school information and seek niche school environments. Working-class and middle-class black and Latinx mothers engage in ongoing labor to monitor the racial climate within schools and to protect their children from experiences of marginalization. Partnered fathers and single primary-caregiver fathers invest less time and energy in the search for schools. These findings identify an important source of gender inequality stemming from modern educational policies and suggest new directions for research on school choice.

2021 ◽  
pp. 003804072110460
Melanie Jones Gast

Past work and college–access programs often treat college knowledge as discrete pieces of information and focus on the amount of available college information. I use ethnographic and multiwave interview data to compare college–aspiring working- and middle–class black 9th and 11th graders across almost two years in high school along with their post–high school updates. Respondents were exposed to college–going messages but faced racial constraints and unclear expectations for college preparation and help seeking. Working-class respondents drew on hopeful uncertainty—a repertoire of hope for college admissions but uncertainty in the specifics—and they waited for assistance. Twelfth-grade working–class respondents experienced the effects of counseling problems and frustrations near application time. Middle-class and some working–class respondents used a repertoire of competitive groundwork to improve their competitiveness for four–year admissions, targeting their help seeking to navigate impending deadlines and late–stage counseling problems. My findings point to the timing and process of activating repertoires of college knowledge within a high school counseling field, suggesting the need to reconceptualize college knowledge in research on racial and class inequality in college access.

2021 ◽  
Vol 94 (4) ◽  
pp. 251-252
Linda Renzulli

2021 ◽  
pp. 003804072110415
Dennis J. Condron ◽  
Douglas B. Downey ◽  
Megan Kuhfeld

How does schooling affect inequality in students’ academic skills? Studies comparing children’s trajectories during summers and school years provide a provocative way of addressing this question, but the most persuasive seasonal studies (1) focus primarily on skill gaps between social categories (e.g., social class, race/ethnicity), which constitute only a small fraction of overall skill inequality, and (2) are restricted to early grades, making it difficult to know whether the patterns extend into later grades. In this study, we use seasonal comparisons to examine the possibilities that schooling exacerbates, reduces, or reproduces overall skill inequality in math, reading, language use, and science with recent national data on U.S. public school students spanning numerous grade levels from the Northwest Evaluation Association. Our results suggest that schooling has a compensatory effect on inequality in reading, language, and science skills but not math skills. We conclude by discussing the theoretical implications of our findings, possible reasons why the math findings differ from those of other subjects, and discrepant seasonal patterns across national data sets.

2021 ◽  
pp. 003804072110402
Adam Gamoran ◽  
Hannah K. Miller ◽  
Jeremy E. Fiel ◽  
Jessa Lewis Valentine

Social capital is widely cited as benefiting children’s school performance, but close inspection of existing research yields inconsistent findings. Focusing on intergenerational closure among parents of children in the same school, this article draws from a field experiment to test the effects of social capital on children’s achievement in reading and mathematics. When children were in first grade, their schools were randomly assigned to an after-school family-based intervention that boosts social capital. A total of 52 schools in Phoenix, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas, containing over 3,000 first graders, participated in the study, with half the schools in each city assigned to the treatment group and half serving as no-treatment controls. Two years later, no differences in third-grade achievement were evident between children who had been in treatment schools versus control schools. By contrast, nonexperimental analyses of survey-based measures of social capital suggest positive effects on achievement, indicating that naïve estimates based on survey measures may be upwardly biased by unobserved conditions that lead to both stronger ties among parents and higher test scores. This article adds to a growing literature that raises doubts about the effects of this type of social capital for achievement outcomes among young children.

2021 ◽  
pp. 003804072110417
Eric Grodsky ◽  
Catherine Doren ◽  
Koit Hung ◽  
Chandra Muller ◽  
John Robert Warren

We ask whether patterns of racial ethnic and socioeconomic stratification in educational attainment are amplified or attenuated when we take a longer view of educational careers. We propose a model of staged advantage to understand how educational inequalities evolve over the life course. Distinct from cumulative advantage, staged advantage asserts that inequalities in education ebb and flow over the life course as the population at risk of making each educational transition changes along with the constraints they confront in seeking more education. Results based on data from the 2014 follow up of the sophomore cohort of High School and Beyond offer partial support for our hypotheses. The educational attainment process was far from over for our respondents as they aged through their 30s and 40s: More than 6 of 10 continued their formal training during this period, and 4 of 10 earned an additional credential. Patterns of educational stratification at midlife became more pronounced in some ways as women pulled further ahead of men in their educational attainments and parental education (but not income), and high school academic achievement continued to shape educational trajectories at the bachelor’s degree level and beyond. However, African Americans gained on whites during this life phase through continued formal (largely academic) training and slightly greater conditional probabilities of graduate or professional degree attainment; social background fails to predict earning an associate’s degree. These results, showing educational changes and transitions far into adulthood, have implications for our understanding of the complex role of education in stratification processes.

2021 ◽  
pp. 003804072110392
Caitlin E. Ahearn

Students with aligned educational and occupational expectations have improved college and labor market outcomes. Despite extensive knowledge about the ways social background and school context contribute to educational expectations, less is known about the role of social intuitions in shaping expectational alignment. Drawing on data from the 2009 High School Longitudinal Study, I estimate the magnitude of socioeconomic inequality in alignment. I examine how differences in observed student characteristics contribute to, and whether school-based postsecondary planning initiatives mitigate, that inequality. Results from multinomial regression models show large socioeconomic differences in ninth-grade alignment, and I identify achievement, attitudes about college and careers, and relationships with significant others as contributors to those differences. Participation in postsecondary planning is associated with reduced uncertainty and increased alignment, but this relationship does not differ by social background, indicating that the examined college and career planning policies do little to address inequality in alignment.

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