August 17th, 2014

ASA Awards Ceremony and Presidential Address (2014)


The Presidential Plenary featuring the formal address of ASA President Annette Lareau will be held on Sunday, August 17, at 4:30p.m. The Awards Ceremony, conferring the 2014 major awards, will open this session. All registrants are invited to attend this plenary session and the Honorary Reception afterwards to honor President Annette Lareau and the award recipients.


>> Good afternoon. And on behalf of the A.S.A., welcome to the 2014 Awards Ceremonies and Presidential Address. My name is Brian Powell and I'm the current A.S.A. Vice President. I will be your emcee.
I hope all of you are enjoying San Francisco and the 109th Annual Meeting of the A.S.A. But first, please join me as we take a moment to remember those sociologists who passed away and whose legacy
we will always remember.
>> Thank you. We now turn to the presentation of the 2014 A.S.A. Awards by Awards Master of Ceremonies Professor Amanda Lewis from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Please welcome Amanda.
>> Good afternoon. We're going to begin with a most distinguished award. The A.S.A. Dissertation Award, which honors the best Ph.D. dissertation from among those admitted by advisors and mentors in
the discipline. And I'd like you to please help me welcome Amy Schalet, as she highlights the award and the dynamic work of this year's two recipients. [Applause]
>> The first of our two awards goes to Ya-Wen Lei, who wrote the dissertation "Uncovering the Roots of the Nationwide Counterpublic in China" at the University of Michigan under the supervision of
Greta Krippner, her chair. Using an innovative, multifaceted, comparative and historical analysis, Lei demonstrates the rise of an oppositional public sphere in China. Creatively challenging
prevailing theories, Lei asks how in the absence of a robust civil society Chinese citizens were able to formulate an oppositional discourse. She shows how, in response to crisis, the state
unintentionally created the institutional and symbolic foundations for this Counterpublic. Yan Long is our second awardee. She wrote the dissertation, "Constructing Political Actorhood: the Emergence
and Transformation of AIDS Advocacy in China," 1989 to 2012 also at the University of Michigan under the guidance of Elizabeth Armstrong and Wang Zheng, both chairs. Drawing on archival data and over
120 interviews, this intellectually ambitious dissertation demonstrates how transnational AIDS governance institutions changed the cultural scripts and organizational principles that have formed the
response of activists and the state alike, thus accounting for the rise and decline of the AIDS movement in China. Please join me in welcoming the two awardees. [Applause]
>> I'd like to thank the A.S.A. Dissertation Award Committee for this honor. And this honor actually belongs to the institutions and individuals that made my dissertation possible. I thank the
University of Michigan and my professors there. My advisor, Greta Krippner, has stood by me every step of the way. I'm Greta's first advisee and it means a lot to me to receive this award 10 years
after she herself received it. I'm also very, very grateful for the amazing insights and mentorship of Mark Mizruchi, Yu Xie, Peggy Somers and Mary Gallagher, all of whom embody the spirit of
excellence in regard to scholarship and teaching. I thank interviewees and friends in China for their assistance and support. I also thank my brilliant editor, (Chinese). My thanks also go to Amartya
Sen and Noah Feldman at the Harvard Society of Fellows. Finally, I thank my parents, sisters, daughter and friends for their love. This award humbles me and strengthens my commitment to pursue
excellence in return for what I received. Thank you. [Applause]
>> Hi, thanks to the American Sociological Association and the Awards Selection Committee. I'm deeply humbled to be here and profoundly appreciative of being recognized this way. An award like this is
possible only because of many supportive organizations and individuals who have shown faith in me in the past years. The University of Michigan has shaped who I am as a sociologist. But without my
Committee members, Elizabeth Armstrong, Wang Zheng, and Kiyoteru Tsutsui, I would have dropped out of the graduate program. I would also like to show my gratitude to my current home, Stanford Center
of Philanthropy and Civil Society for helping me, supporting me move this project forward. And to my dear family and friends for supporting me in all my undertakings. But most importantly, I want to
thank all the Chinese activists I studied, their courage and the passion motivated me to continue, and I hope my work will contribute to their fight in some way. Thank you very much. [Applause]
>> Next, we are going to have the Jessie Bernard Award. Given annually in recognition of a body of scholarly work that has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in
society. Please welcome Jessica Fields as she presents this year's awards recipients. [Applause]
>> We honor Professor Esther Ngan-ling Chow with the Jessie Bernard Award in recognition of her groundbreaking contributions to sociological understandings of women of color including but not limited
to Asian and Asian-American women. Professor Chow's research, which has been published in Chinese and English has illuminated gendered experiences of migration, development, and a global labor
market. Professor Chow offered some of the earliest intersectional analyses of race, ethnicity, class and gender and was among the first to bring intersectional perspectives to global and
transnational contexts. A prolific author, devoted mentor and committed feminist intellectual, Professor Chow has been recognized for professional societies and universities in China, Taiwan and the
United States. Sociologists committed to feminist analyses of women of color's experiences of markets, migration and development are indebted to Professor Chow for her groundbreaking efforts and
insights. The Jessie Bernard Committee is also pleased to recognize professor Christine L. Williams for a career marked by innovative insights into gender and sexuality in the workplace. Professor
Williams' research reflects a willingness to challenge established thinking in our discipline. For example, exploring connections between psychoanalysis in sociology and critiquing her own concept of
"the glass escalator." In recent years Professor Williams has been a leader in the effort to ensure sociology not be deployed to, as she put it, "diminish the civil rights and legitimacy of LBGTQ
partners and their families. Professor Williams has mentored many sociology's newest leaders, co-authoring manuscripts with students, providing junior scholars significant professional opportunities,
and championing first-time authors. Her numerous publications, awards and terms in elected office points to the success of Professor Williams' insistence that feminism be central to sociological
inquiry. The Committee extends its warmest congratulations to Professor Chow and Professor Williams. [Applause]
>> It's a great honor to receive the A.S.A. Jessie Bernard Award. I want to thank the Committee for their selection. In the early part of my career, I had the privilege of knowing this wonderful
woman, Jessie Bernard. She was one of the colleagues who inspired me to develop a feminist sociological imagination and focus my research on women and gender. Civil rights movements, second-wave
feminism in the 1960's benefited my academic career when sociologists began to examine relations of privilege, power and social hierarchy. Multiple forms of domination and oppression were reviewed
through this research, which allow us to recognize how the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and other axes of differences and identities denies individual opportunity and
perpetuates inequalities in society. In accepting this speech, I thank my family for their unwavering love, encouragement and strong support. I also acknowledge a depth of gratitude to numerous
colleagues, including my students, who have enriched my understanding of human rights, equality and justice. And they encouraged me to become an activist for social change. Finally, I dedicate this
award to the extraordinary efforts of women of color who taught me so much and joined me in collective action. Thank you very much for this award. [Applause]
>> It is such a great honor to be selected to receive the Jessie Bernard Award. My deepest thanks to the Committee and to the distinguished scholars who nominated me. I'm also grateful to my family
including my parents, my sisters and Martin, who are all here. Today's my mother and father's anniversary. Happy anniversary, mom and dad. [Applause] I'm also very grateful to my mentors, Bob and
Mary Jo Nye at the University of Oklahoma, where I was an undergraduate and Neil Smelser, Nancy Chodorow, and Ken Bock at UC Berkeley. I'm also grateful to Naomi Schneider, my editor at the
University of California Press for many years. I also want to thank my lifelong friends from graduate school, my colleagues at the University of Texas and the fabulous students that I've worked with
over the years. One of Jessie Bernard's goals was to eliminate what she called the sexist bias of sociology. She once called sociology a science of male society. In the 1970's, she helped to form
S.W.S., a community of feminist scholars who thought to make gender a legitimate area of study. It is with the utmost appreciation for Jessie Bernard and everyone in the discipline who continues to
fight for the full inclusion of women in society that I gratefully accept this award. Thank you. [Applause]
>> This is always the fun part of the meetings for me. The next award will be for The Public Understanding of Sociology. The Public Understanding of Sociology Award is given annually to advance the
public understanding of sociology, sociological research and scholarship among the general public. Please welcome Douglas Hartmann, as he presents this year's recipient.
>> I'm proud to present Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology at Boston College, as the recipients of the Award for Public Understanding of Sociology this year. Originally trained as an economist,
Schor burst onto the sociological scene in the early 1990's with the publication of "The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure." And she was just getting started. Over the course of
the next two decades, Professor Schor has produced a body of work on the social and environmental dimensions of human consumption that has significantly impacted both public discourse and public
policy as well as brought sociology to broader visibility and public influence. Her most recent research in writing pushes all of us, scholars, policy makers and the general public toward a new
economics characterized by a socially driven economy rooted in sustainability and humanity. In conducting cutting-edge research on topics of crucial societal significance, exhibiting a keen
understanding of the workings of publicity and the media and working tirelessly on dissemination and institution-building, Professor Schor serves as a model of scholarship, research, outreach, and
engagement for all of us sociologists to emulate and aspire to. It is a pleasure to recognize her with this award. [Applause]
>> Thank you. Well, it's a tremendous honor to be here and to receive the Public Understanding of Sociology Award. Since graduate school, I've been involved in efforts to communicate my research to a
general public, and having joined sociology a little over a decade ago, I can say that I now believe that solutions to urgent social problems often lie in the findings of this discipline. I want to
thank the Committee, my colleagues at Boston College, my nominator, Sarah Babb and Leah Schmalzbauer, the outstanding sociologists who recommended me, colleagues in the N.G.O. who I've worked with
for decades, and my family and especially my wonderful husband, Prasannan Parthasarathi. Today I am directing my attention largely to climate change, which threatens to overwhelm efforts to create a
just and peaceful planet. My efforts to communicate with the public include the forthcoming report of the A.S.A. Task Force on Climate Change, which showcases the unique contributions of sociology to
this problem. And I just wanted to issue an invitation to all of you to join with us as the report comes out and we publicize it over the next year, to call attention to the urgency of climate
destruction and the value of sociological knowledge for crafting effective responses to it. Thank you. [Applause]
>> Next we will have the Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award. This award honors the intellectual tradition of Oliver Cox, Charles S. Johnson and E. Franklin Frazier. Please welcome Deborah King as she presents
this year's recipient. [Applause]
>> Good afternoon. For almost half a century, Richard Oliver Hope has crafted a career that demonstrates the transformative potential in the synergy of scholarship and sociological practice. In three
books, including his similar work on African-Americans in the military, numerous articles, chapters and reports, he has enhanced our critical understanding of the deleterious effects of racial
exclusion and segregation in housing, education, the military, and Foreign Service not only for those marginalized groups, but on the vitality of those very institutions. Simultaneously, whether in
the leadership of academic departments, at the Department of Defense's Equal Opportunity Management Institute, Indiana's Center for International Studies, or the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Dr. Hope
has created and directed various initiatives that have effectively expanded and sustained minority access to, promotion within, and contributions to the Academy, the military and international
relations. He has been praised as a gifted instructor, a supportive mentor, and his expertise and wisdom has been sought by colleagues, universities, governments, corporations and advocacy
organizations in the United States and internationally. For his innovative intellectual and applied interventions and his uncompromising commitment to greater racial and social justice, we are
delighted to present Richard Oliver Hope with this year's Cox-Johnson-Frazier award. [Applause]
>> I want to thank the American Sociological Association for honoring me with the Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award. It is my good fortune to have known these giants of sociology. It was my pleasure to know
Charles Johnson when he was President of Fisk University, and I'm indebted to Dr. Johnson who developed The Race Relations Institute at Fisk University. This substitute provided a rare, if not only
-- a rare opportunity for leaders to come around from the world to discuss race relations even at their peril on occasion. These experiences developed The Race Relations Institute in my case; this
program that I started in 1971 continues today and educates over 40,000 personnel as change agents to improve intergroup relations. I have also been fortunate to work with Nelson Mandela in
developing a program, the Public Policy Partnership, supporting South African students to become future leaders in government. I am deeply indebted to Mr. Mandela for encouraging me to initiate and
manage this program. I have had several profound influences in life, primarily among these, Charles V. Willie, the quintessential mentor, who has been at my side since we met as alumni of Morehouse
College. I thank my family and most importantly, my wife, Alice. Thank you. [Applause]
>> Good music. OK. Next, we are going to have the Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues. This award honors individuals for their promotion of sociological findings and a broader
vision of society. Please welcome Ryan Kelty as he presents this year's award.
>> Good afternoon. The A.S.A. Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues honors individuals for their effective translation, promotion and dissemination of information to the general
public that includes a sociological perspective on social issues. This year's award honors Lee Rainie and the Pew Internet and American Life Project for their significant contributions in reporting
on the varied ways in which the internet has affected profound change on socialized Americans. Lee's work and that of his team is widely regarded as the most authoritative source of reliable data on
the use and impact of the internet and its related technologies in the lives of people in contemporary society. The rich array of work covered by Lee and the Pew Internet and American Life Team
ranges from the impact of people's use of social media on their key relationships, to the way that internet users act on health care information they get online, to the impact of the internet on
campaigns, elections and Americans' overall civic life. The Pew Internet Project has been a leader in making both its reports and its data broadly available, not surprisingly leading the way in
leveraging the internet and social media to do so. Please join me in congratulating Lee Rainie and his team at the Pew Internet and American Life Project as this year's recipient of the A.S.A.'s
Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues. [Applause]
>> The ancient Egyptians had a wonderful insight that in gratitude is a gateway sin. If you think everything good that's happened to you is a result of your own efforts, then you're in for a world of
trouble. So I'm delighted to stand here not necessarily sinless, but full of gratitude for the work of my colleagues in whose name I accept this, Mary, Aaron and Cornelia, Susannah, Joanna, Maeve and
Amanda. And I'd like to thank those in this room who have added to the wealth of our network. Many of you have helped us along our way and I especially want to call out my dear friend, Barry Wellman.
In addition I would like to thank the sponsors of our work at the Pew Charitable Trust, Rebecca Rimel and my colleague Andy Kohut, have been supporters of our work along the way and their sustained
contributions have been wonderful. And finally, any act of gratitude on my part begins and ends with my life's love, Paulette, who makes me wants to say the gospel words every day, so many blessings,
I can't count every one. Thanks. [Applause]
>> Next, we have the Award for the Practice of Sociology. This award -- the distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology honors outstanding contributions to sociological practice for work
that is facilitated or served as a model for the work of others or work that has significantly advanced the utility of one or more specialty areas in sociology. Please welcome Ross Koppel, as he
presents this year's recipient. [Applause]
>> The award goes to Harry Perlstadt. Harry exemplifies the ideals of using sociology to help society. Chemists and biologists don't apologize for making life better or longer, and they don't suffer
public or academic status loss. Comte called sociology the queen science, not the virgin queen science. We're allowed to get our hands dirty. Harry's distinguished career shows that sociology can be
a positive force beyond positivism, to which he's also dedicated both by action and academic research, which were manifested in his work through H.H.S., the World Health Organization, Kellogg
Foundation, in works like for H.I.V. AIDS, environmental health, smoking cessation, health professions education, all part of his 50-page C.V. Harry's been a force for sociological practice by his
work on several applied sociological associations and commissions. He's been fool enough to try to practice on the A.S.A. You should see his proposals for the forthcoming business meeting to create a
task force on public policy and information. Comte did not call us the virgin queen science and Harry shows that sociology can be socially active, interventionist, and activist. Thank you, and the
award goes to Harry Perlstadt. [Applause]
>> I deeply appreciate being recognized and honored by the Association. I attended my first A.S.A. meeting in college in 1965. I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago and volunteered to
work registration. I never dreamt that almost 50 years later I would be the recipient of the distinguished career Award for the Practice of Sociology. For over 40 years at Michigan State University,
I was afforded the opportunity to teach, conduct research, deliver community outreach and provide public service in sociology, public health and medical education. I wish to thank my colleagues who
joined me in establishing the Commission for the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology and those who have worked with me on other projects over the years. While my career
followed a path less traveled, I could not have done this alone. I was embedded in a social network that included several previous winners of this prestigious award. During graduate school at the
University of Chicago I had classes with Peter Rossi, met fellow graduate students, William Kornblum, Judy Blau, and Donald Light, and later interacted with Robert Dentler, Ross Koppel, and Jan Marie
Fritz. Finally, I must acknowledge the support of my best friend forever, my wife, Terri. Thank you. [Applause]
>> Next, we have the Distinguished Contribution to Teaching Award. This award is given to honor outstanding contributions to the undergraduate and/or graduate teaching and learning of sociology that
improves the quality of teaching. Please welcome Wendy Ng, as she presents this year's recipient. [Applause]
>> Thank you very much. It is my great pleasure to introduce Kathleen S. Lowney, Professor of Sociology at Valdosta State University and who is this year's recipient of the Distinguished Contribution
to Teaching Award. She currently is the outgoing editor of Teaching Sociology and is the author of "Baring Our Souls: TV Talk Shows and the Religion of Recovery and Passport to Heaven: Gender Roles
in the Unification Church." Her commitment to teaching and learning is evident from numerous published articles, books, chapters, syllabi sets and teaching ancillaries for sociology textbooks, and
she has most recently been appointed as fellow and resident at Valdosta State's IDEA Center, which stands for Innovative Designs for Enhancing the Academy. Her nominators praise her sustained
commitment to the scholarship of teaching and learning through the development and dissemination of teaching strategies and advocacy throughout the professional community of sociologists and beyond
that. Kathleen S. Lowney exemplifies the model of the teacher-scholar, one who has a love for teaching, dedication and commitment to the discipline and amazing positive energy. Thank you. Let us
welcome Kathleen.
>> Thank you so the A.S.A., the Council, and especially to those who nominated me for this award. Teaching is my passion. At times it's been the glue that held my life together. We owe our students
our best. Our teaching should be grounded in the scholarship of teaching and learning and best practices in pedagogy, cognitive science and their application to sociologists. As an interactionist,
however, I know teaching is not a solitary endeavor. Students, colleagues, authors of the readings we choose, we're all travelers on the same journey. Good teachers find ways to make the journey an
adventure. Great teachers find ways to make the intellectual trip a fantastic voyage of discovery. If my publications about the scholarship of teaching and learning and my time as editor has helped
others to reach their moment of discovery, then I've done my job. Thank you. [Applause]
>> Next, we have the Distinguished Book Award. The Distinguished Book Award is presented annually for a single book or monograph published in the three preceding calendar years. Please welcome
Jennifer L. Pierce as she presents this year's recipients. [Applause]
>> Thank you very much. It's my great pleasure to announce the two book award winners this year for the Distinguished Book Award in the American Sociological Association and one honorable mention. The
first book is by Monica Prasad, titled "The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Inequality." This brilliant book provides an important answer to the question of why America's
welfare state is so weak, and why so many Americans live in poverty. Drawing on both historical and cross-national evidence, Prasad demonstrates that although the United States is often considered a
weak state, in fact, a strong tradition of governmental intervention has always existed in the U.S. And in one of the ironies of history, this strong tradition of intervention undermined our welfare
state. The other award winner is Robert Sampson. His book is titled "Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect." This incredibly important methodologically rigorous and
fascinating book argues that neighborhoods matter because our lives are decisively shaped by where we live. Based on over 10 years of research on Chicago neighborhoods, combined with personal
observations about life in the city, Sampson finds spatial inequality surprisingly enduring, and that neighborhood influences a wide variety of social phenomena including crime, health, civic
engagement, home foreclosures, teen births, altruism, leadership and migration flows. Synthesizing local and general mechanisms, the book provides a contextual theory with broad implications for
explaining how cities work. I'd also like to announce our honorable mention this year, Claudio Benzecry. His book is titled, " Opera Fanatic: Ethnography of an Obsession. In this imaginative,
theoretically sophisticated and carefully researched book, Benzecry provides a powerful alternative explanation to those who see culture as a means of gaining distinction over others. He shows that
passion and meaning are central, that people are looking for transcendence and that opera feels like love. His book will change our thinking about cultural consumption. The Committee offers its
warmest congratulations to these recipients, and please, Monica and Robert, please come up. [Applause]
>> It's an honor to share this award with Robert Sampson. I'd like to thank Michael Aronson of Harvard University Press for taking a chance on this manuscript and my husband, Stefan Henning, for his
support throughout, as well as my family, including my sister, who's here today. I see my award for my book as an award for historical approaches to economic sociology and I'd like to take the
occasion to call attention to how much exciting work is being done in this area. For example, you simply can't understand the American economy today if you haven't read Greta Krippner or Isaac Martin
and you can't understand developing countries in the rise of China or Russia's difficult transition from communism or globalization and the future of the welfare state if you're not reading
historical economic sociology. What's even more exciting is that grad students seem to be well aware of this. I want to point that out especially to those of you who will be hiring assistant
professors this year. I can say without a doubt to anyone who liked my book that in the area of historical economic sociology, the best is yet to come. Thank you. [Applause]
>> I am, of course, honored to receive the distinguished Scholarly Book Award along with Monica for "Great American City." Robert Murton reminded us that in our work we stand on the shoulders of
giants. And in my case, that's particularly true. My work draws on the legacy of a great number of urban scholars that have inspired me over the years, a list much too long to recount. But I'm
especially pleased that one of those giants, Bill Wilson, is to receive the W.E.B. Dubois Award for Career of Distinguished Scholarship. Bill, as I wrote in my acknowledgements, there's been a
touchstone to urban scholars and he's been an inspiring role model for me ever since I first joined the faculty at the University of Chicago. I only hope that the work in the book lives up to the
legacy that Bill has set, but also to the Early Chicago School, to other schools of inquiry, and indeed, to that of urban scholars everywhere. Thank you. [Applause]
>> Next, we have the W.E.B. Dubois Career Award. This award is an Award for Distinguished Scholarship and it honors scholars who have shown outstanding commitment to the profession of sociology and
whose cumulative work has contributed in important ways to the advancement of the discipline. Please welcome Aldon Morris as he presents this year's recipient. [Applause]
>> My goodness. I almost lost my -- that would have been a shame. How are you all? The 2014th winner of the W.E.B. Dubois Distinguished Career of Scholarship Award is Professor William J. Wilson,
University Professor at Harvard University. Like Dubois, Wilson's work investigates dynamics associated with the indelible color line. Reminiscent of Dubois, while Wilson's scholarship has stirred
controversy, debate and even occasional acrimony, it has succeeded in illuminating complex interactions among race, class, poverty and policy initiatives addressing the most vulnerable citizens. To
assess the huge impact of Wilson's work, one nominator surmised it is because his arguments have been novel, accessible and bold. Wilson's work has influenced numerous scholars for four decades. He
has been a tireless mentor of students who have made important contributions -- scholarly contributions in their own right. And maybe they have reached such heights because, as one student put it, he
wanted us to be bold and irreverent in our relationship to his work so long as they got the argument right. [Laughter] Because he has won a National Medal of Science and a MacArthur Award, the Dubois
Award completes the third in a triad of honors indicating Professor Wilson has reached a pantheon of scholarship. Please join me in extending congratulations to Professor William J. Wilson, the 2014
recipient of the W.E.B. Dubois Distinguished Career of Scholarship Award. And I have only one other thing, which is new is that I just learned that the San Francisco City Council has granted this to
be the William J. Wilson Day in San Francisco. [Applause]
>> Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. This is indeed a very special honor. And I thank Aldon and other members of the Committee. I was elated to learn that the many sociologists who wrote
letters supporting my nomination are all preeminent scholars in the various field of inequality. And I have had the special privilege of interacting with these scholars over the years. I have also
benefited enormously from my membership in two renowned Departments of Sociology; the first at the University of Chicago, where I spent 24 productive years, and the second at Harvard, where I
currently enjoy fruitful contacts with an extraordinary group of faculty and graduate students. This award is special for another reason. It underscores the idea that a scholar's work can be
accessible and broadly discussed outside of academia and, at the same time, be seriously discussed and widely cited by social scientists. Thank you very much. [Applause]
>> Personally, it's a thrill to follow William Julius Wilson. I think it's just a terrific group of people who won these awards and I want to thank Amanda, and I want to thank the members of the
awards presenters and other members of the Awards Committee for really selecting a just terrific group of awardees. You know, I'd like all the awardees to stand up one more time. And I know it's sort
of cheesy, but stand up and let's all applaud them. [Applause] It now is my pleasure to introduce our President this year, Annette Lareau. It's fitting that Annette's term as President coincides with
A.S.A. meetings in San Francisco, as Annette began her academic career in California, where she earned her B.A. at U.C. Santa Cruz and her Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley. This Californian since then moved
eastward; first to Southern Illinois, University of Carbondale, then further east to Temple University, and then to the University of Maryland. For the past six years Annette has been the Stanley I.
Sheerr Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Annette's primary interests as a sociologist, interests that certainly reflected in the theme of this year's A.S.A. meetings is on inequality, or
in her own words, how stratification has an effect on life chances and how structural -- social structural forces do or do not shape crucial aspects of daily life. Annette's focus is squarely on
family and the ways in which social class shapes family. In particular, the role that parents from different social classes assume in facilitating for impeding children's progress. These concerns are
central to her two books that in my view and that of others are classics, "Home Advantage: Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education and Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and
Family Life." Now, influence in and beyond the discipline can be gauged in many different ways. It can be gauged and imperfectly by simply noting how much and where one scholarship has been
published. In Annette's case, over 40 chapters and articles that have been featured in such top journals as the A.S.A.-sponsored Sociological Theory, Sociology of Education, and American Sociological
Review. In addition, six books and prestigious presses, such as the Russell Sage Foundation and the University of California Press. It be gauged by key concepts that were coined or popularized by the
scholars. In Annette's case, for example, concerted cultivation. It can be gauged by awards. In Annette's case, for example, book awards from four sections of the A.S.A., including childhood,
culture, education and family. It can be gauged by numbers and citations. In Annette's case, over a thousand citations for her article with Michelle Lamont, "Cultural Capital: Allusions, Gaps, and
Glissandos in Recent Theoretical Developments," over 2,000 citations for her book "Home Advantage," and over 3,000 citations for her Unequal Childhoods. It can be gauged not by her citations, but how
she has been cited. And how -- and we can look in particular at the number of young scholars today who engage and debate her scholarship and use it as a starting point to their scholarship. Many of
these young scholars are presenting at this year's A.S.A. meetings, and as a signal of Annette's commitment to the promotion of these young scholars, and especially young ethnographers, they've been
featured in some of the most visible sessions of A.S.A. meetings, for example, two of today's presidential panels. To me, however, perhaps the most important signal of Annette's influence is on
younger scholars. I mean younger than assistant professors and younger than graduate students. I realize -- the people in this room chose sociology for a wide range of reasons. But I suspect many
people in this room had an experience very similar to mine. As an undergraduate, after dismissing other social or behavioral sciences for being, well, limited, I took a sociology course and I became
fascinated by readings, Goffman's Presentation of Self, Kohn's Class and Conformity, the Coleman Report, Liebow's Tally's Corner, and Mills' The Sociological Imagination. These readings resonated
with me in ways that readings from other disciplines did not. And that's the reason I chose sociology. Today, students taking their first and hopefully not their last course in sociology are
experiencing the same intellectual excitement that I, and I assume you, felt. But instead of or hopefully in addition to Goffman, Kohn, Liebow, Mills, and Coleman, they are reading Lareau's
meaningful and resonating work and for this we owe great appreciation to Annette. So please join me in welcoming the 2014 President of the American Sociological Association, Professor Annette Lareau.
>> Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I have to say it's completely impressive the number of great studies that have been done that are highlighted in the awards ceremony. Thank you for coming. It's
an honor and a pleasure to be here this afternoon. In her autobiography Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor described a long journey she took from the Bronx to Princeton, Yale Law School, and ultimately
to the chambers of a courtroom. And as she describes that journey, she describes the amount of cultural knowledge which she was surprised to learn that she didn't know. She did not know about the
existence of the Ivy League, although she graduated at the top of her high school -- Catholic high school. She was surprised at Princeton to discover the difference between memorization and analysis
and essay. And after feeling that an interview at Radcliffe had not gone well even though she was accepted, she waited fearfully for a letter telling her that her acceptance had been terminated. This
focus on cultural knowledge is what I want to talk about today in my comments this afternoon because I think that there's very good evidence that social class has cast a long shadow over the lives of
many individuals. And the sociological literature has been much more focused on economic factors, material forces, than on the role of non-economic forces in shaping these outcomes. And when
attention is trained on cultural knowledge, there's really a focus often on cultural taste rather than on knowledge about how institutions work and what you need, for example, to know about how to
choose a college, how to get a college to choose you, or how to land a job on Wall Street compared to Main Street.
This morning in the San Francisco Bay Area, a number of babies were born. But as sociology as understood, the impact of social class on life chances as, for example, making the focus on the difference
between a doctor's child versus a cafeteria worker's child, the research is mostly focused on material forces or in some cases on hopes and dreams, aspirations, and expectations. Now these
contributions are surely valuable, but I believe we can also deepen our understanding of the role of social class on cultural knowledge. And so this is particular relevant when we are focusing on
hard times. The young adults coming of age today are coming together, coming of age in a challenging social situation. There's been a dramatic rise in inequality in recent decades as the top of the
scale has pulled away. There's a very demonstrated gap of the impact of parents' income on test scores that Sean Reardon has shown is now exceeding the black/white test score gap. And of course, many
children are poor.
But this issue of hard times is particularly consequential for those who grow up in less advantaged homes, working class homes. Because of the decline in the U.S. economy, there's just been a radical
drop in the number of good jobs for high school graduates. There's been a rising return to a college education. There's been an increase in college debt and, of course, we've also had an erosion of
state support for higher education. And yet increasingly we live in a world where education is crucially important to getting a good job. Because of the credential society, it's very hard to get a
good job without a Bachelor's Degree. And yet as the erosion of the economy has influenced higher education, here we are in California, and these in current dollars is striking how much tuition has
gone up in our fees at the University of California, the California state system, and community colleges. And it wasn't that long ago that a working class kid could possibly work his or her way
through school. And this matters because now increasingly dependent people are dependent on financial aid, but of course financial aid is cumbersome. An application that's incomplete or financial aid
losing a crucial piece of paper can be very consequential for the life chances of young adults.
And so the irony -- I mean most people in this room have a Ph.D. or are about to get a Ph.D. And in this context, I think it's easy to forget how unusual we really are and really only about a third of
young people, 25 to 29, actually complete college, a third never start, and a third start in usually often a community college and then fizzle. And so this access to higher education which is so
crucial to getting good jobs is definitive evidence that parent's education and their social class position more generally has an influence on the likelihood of pursuing and completing higher
education. And so as the slide shows, if there are children, young adults, who parents were high school dropouts are much less likely to begin college immediately after high school than those whose
parents have a college degree. And so I think we need to think more deeply about these cultural processes that are involved in these key life transitions.
And here I just want to bring our attention to just the Oxford Dictionary's definition of cultural knowledge and notice about ease and familiarity. It's awareness as well as facts, information, and
skills. And instead of cultural knowledge as simply reading and writing and academic, I want to talk about knowledge of institutional processes which I will suggest can be very important. And they're
important because there are important navigating institutions. The family is one of the most powerful institutions that we all grow up in. And yet, the research and sociology has too often, I think,
looked inside the family and hasn't looked more broadly at how family members navigate institutions. But there are many key points that have to be navigated where the path is sometimes not clear and
often where there's rejection or missed opportunities. Because although it would be ideal if life went smoothly, the reality is life generally often does not go smoothly. And so young people face
hurdles. They fall behind in their classes. They're in car accidents. They have an emergency during the semester. They aren't promoted for a job. They're unjustly arrested and when they go in to have
their children, their children also needs special services.
In my book, "Unequal Childhoods," which came out in 2003, I was very much focused on the perspective of parents. It's always a little bit confusing when we were doing it as was I really studying
parents or kids because I was studying interaction between parents and kids. But the book came down squarely on focusing on the parents. And so the book argued that there were class differences in
child rearing and there was a cultural logic of child rearing. I looked at time use, language use, and intervention in institutions. The most unusual feature of the study was that with research
assistance, I followed around 12 families usually every day for three weeks. This is not a role model for dissertation, I assure you. And the families -- we noticed that yelling went up and cursing
went up on the third day and again, on the 10th day and that we had exit interviews where people talked about how it made a difference us being there, but they mostly insisted that they had been
theirselves. So this is a definition of social class which obviously is a materialist definition of social class about particularly if somebody loses a job, what kind of opportunities would this
person have and that's the core element of the social class definition.
And so using a gardening analogy, I argued in "Unequal Childhoods," the first edition, that middle class families saw their children as a project and they consistently sought to develop their talents
and skills often in a relentless way. They enrolled them in organized activities, they answered questions with questions, and they closely supervised their lives and institutions. By contrast,
although working class and poor parents love their children very much, they tended to work on getting scarce resources to get kids through the day and they note with leisure time they just presume
that their kids would spontaneously develop and thrive. They didn't have the same sense of obligation to cultivate children constantly. The same included half whites and half African-Americans to be
sure we live in a society that's drenched in many ways by racial inequality particularly for African-Americans. And in my study, the African-Americans lived generally in racially segregated
neighborhoods. They also -- the dads experienced insults on the streets, and there are other ways that race made a difference in their daily life. But in what I was looking at, these child rearing
methods, I found in my study that there was quite a lot of similarity between the middle class white and African-American families and there was a huge difference between, for example, the
African-American middle class family and the working class and poor African-American families.
Ten years after the original study, I did a follow-up and then this summer, I did another follow-up. So the second edition of "Unequal Childhoods" which came out in 2011 has a hundred new pages where
it describes essentially there were very few surprises in the transition to adulthood and the legacy of social class had in kids' lives which I'll talk a little bit about now. But then this summer
when they were -- in 2014 I went back and I was able to get information on 10 out of 12. Now as I explained in the second edition of "Unequal Childhoods," the book hurt the feelings of many of the
families and some of them got over it and some of them didn't. And so some of them have terminated interaction with me and so, for example, I didn't try to contact the black middle class family, the
Alexander William family. And of course my relationship with the young people has evolved over time and they often have sort of a hazy memory of what it was like at 10 years old as all of our
memories of when we're 10 are often sometimes hazy. I continued to send gift cards and gifts for weddings and for the birth of babies. But if I met them, then they greeted me warmly.
So to preview my argument, I'm going to suggest that class continues to have an impact on the young adult's life experiences and here I'm looking particularly what the young adults know. And I argue
that they create the middle class. Young adults had a sense of entitlement at the age of 29-30 and also they had very deep knowledge of how institutions worked. They also had networks with many
middle class people and also they used what they knew and who they knew to help them as they navigated institutions. This was a pattern that seemed similar for the African-American and white middle
class families, although I have limited data on this point. By contrast, the working class and poor white families and African-American families had a sense of constraint as Jay McCloud reported
yesterday in discussing "Ain't No Making It." They had many efforts and they certainly had hopes and dreams, but what they knew was much more vague, who they knew was based on people who are other
working class folks, and these influenced how they navigated institutions.
And the key point here is not that the cultural practices are intrinsically valuable. The key point is that these practices give young adults resources to bring themselves into compliance with the
relatively arbitrary rules of institutions. And so institutions have many unwritten rules and they also -- we are in a time of eroding public services. And I think quite a bit of research has
suggested that working class and poor families are much more dependent on public institutions such as schools, such as high school counselors, than are the middle class. But exactly at this moment,
the services are being eroded, for example, for high school counselors in many cities today.
So conceptually through my career, I've been guided by the concept of cultural capital and here is a definition of cultural capital. Of course the idea is that this is a cultural resources when
shrewdly invested can yield profits. And again, it's a focus on institutions and the benefits that can be transmitted in institutions. And surely this notion is often in the literature, but the way
in which it works in institutions has not been sufficiently developed.
I meet Stacey Marshall in the back yard of her parents' house with a large expansive lawn where she used to run around when she was 10 years old. She now has a Ph.D., she's married to another person
who's a college graduate and she has a two year old. Thirty minutes away, Tara Carroll, an African-American young woman who grew up in a poor family has been trying valiantly if you -- I think Angela
Duckworth's term of grit really applies to Tara Carroll and she's relatively unusual in how vigorously she's pursued higher education. But although it took her seven years to get an A.A. Degree and
she's now accumulated significant debt, but she only has an A.A. Degree and her path forward remains uncertain. In both cases, they both had difficult freshman years. They both wanted to be in the
sciences. Stacey wanted to be a doctor and Tara wanted to be a nurse and they both foundered their first semester in college.
So Stacey Marshall smiled broadly when I asked her how she thought her life was going and she said, "I think it's going to be really, really great." She had just accepted a job in a university as
being involved in the athletic program and she was going to be a Residential Advisor so she, her husband, and two year old were going to live on campus. And she said, "I think it's going to be
really, really great. I have a lot of to be excited about. I'm going to be exposed to an amazing place. And then at the same token, there's a little bit of anxiety right now with how everything's
going to work, but I'll figure it out. That's life." She and her husband were blessed in many ways. They both had quite a lot of education, but also have student debt; their combined student debt was
$90,000. They were under water with their house as their house was worth less than they had paid for it, and they paid, as many young couples do, over a thousand dollars a month in child care. So
there was economic strain for them including the fact that the previous year when she was a high school teacher, she had put her loans on forbearance because she couldn't -- but now that she has this
new job and she'll have free rent, she's looking forward to picking up the payment of them again.
So when she was a freshman, she had a hard first semester. And part of the problem was that she told me she wanted to go to medical school, but as she said, "I was struggling." This is what she said
this summer. "I was like getting C's and C-'s and I was like, what medical school is going to accept me like with C-'s. I'm going to have to retake all that stuff." But in her freshman year, her
mother was continuing as she had done when she was 10 to closely scrutinize many aspects of the college process. Some of you as parents may be deeply involved in your own young people's college
experience. And so the mother told her to get out of calculus after her fall semester. She said, "You don't want your GPA to get too low and to seek help with an advisor." And so Stacey called her
one night at 11:00 at night. The mother is telling me this when Stacey was 19, after her first freshman year of college. And the mother was somewhat annoyed that Stacey kept calling her and she says,
"Look, you have got to get out of calculus because first semester you don't want your GPA to get too low because then you can never dig yourself out."
And so she was calling me about what should I take, it was 11:00 at night. And I was really stressed with her that she needed to establish communication with those people. I said you need to call
Sarah. Call Sarah, set up an appointment and go talk to her. Talk to her about your major. See what advice she can give you. That is what she is being paid for. Fortunately, sophomore year went
better. As Stacey said, "Sophomore year basketball wise I was like doing much better and I made all-conference team." She was on the basketball team which I forgot to tell you. And she said, "It was
just really good. I met a boy. I fell in love, you know, all those fun things. I was doing well in school. I had finally figured out by the time I declared a major, I figured out that I wanted to
major in Africana studies and kind of put the dream of being a pediatrician, like I got over that and I had a new dream, you know, to get my Ph.D. and followed through on that so it was like a really
important year."
And so Stacey was able to make an adjustment in part because she knew that a medical school would not accept her with grades of C's and C-'s in the sciences. She had another life moment when she
finished her Ph.D. She had met her husband online and she moved from Ohio State, a sister school, and moved to Massachusetts to be with her husband who was bored in a city manager job and ended up
running a restaurant, which she loved. She knew how to do research. She found a professional group, but more importantly she had varied social networks. She had high school, college, graduate school
networks. She had neighborhoods, she had friends and relatives. And so one afternoon, after a birthday party, she drove an hour to go cold to the Professional Association of Educators of Color and
that led to her job.
By contrast only about half an hour away from where Stacey Marshall grew up, I seek Tara Carroll who grew up in a deeply religious poor family. Her grandmother would answer the phone, "God is good,
hello." Her mother had had a drug problem when she was young and she was mostly raised by her grandmother, but then her mother started to do better and by middle school she was living with her mother
and her brother. She was completely clear that she wanted to be a nurse as she said this summer. "Ever since I was five years old, my dream was becoming a nurse and that was because I used to go to
church and my aunt, she was a nurse for the pastor, and I would always see her dressed up in a nurse uniform and a little hat. And she would always take care of the pastor and it looked nice and like
she was always helping people and she would feel good 'cause she helped someone. And I was like, ooh, I want that feeling. I want to feel good like that. I want to help people."
She went to a public high school. She had a relatively high GPA of 3.4, but her SAT scores were disastrous. They were only at the 50% level. Moreover, she energetically applied to seven colleges, but
she applied to colleges that were too high for her SAT scores. Some of them were 200 and 300 points higher. Now if she had been my daughter, I could have probably gotten her into college, but the
issue is the fit about where to apply the college and on that issue, she did not know about it and just as when she was 10 years old, her mother depended on the school for people who had a college
degree to guide her in that process. She was rejected everywhere. Her mother described it as being hurtful and part of the issue was this issue of cultural knowledge.
So as a last resort she went and enrolled in the community college and in her fall semester determined to be a nurse, she took anatomy and physiology. But she found the course difficult. She did not
like the teacher. She found the pace to be extremely quick compared to her public inner city high school. She didn't understand the material and she did not feel comfortable asking questions. She did
go see the teacher once. She did not know the existence of the advisor and she stopped attending. As she told me, "On my transcript I had an F and that was from when I initially started community
college, you know, my first year when I took anatomy and physiology. And I was going through some personal things in my life and I didn't really know about academic policies as far as withdrawing or
dropping a course and stuff like that. And I was really a shy student and I was always so afraid to ask questions and stuff. So instead of me seeking counseling or advising, I just stopped going to
the course and the result of that I received an F on the transcript. And so pretty much that's on my transcript and it's always going to be there. It's never going to go away."
Unlike Stacey, Tara did not have her mother on the phone at 11:00 at night demanding that she go to see a college advisor. It took her seven years to get an A.A. Degree. She was working in a job with
developmental disabled adults and as fate would have it, they paid most of her tuition, but then she couldn't work as many hours so she ended up accumulating $12,000 in debt. Lavin and Attewell in
their excellent book, "Passing the Torch," shows quite common for kids such as Tara to take quite a long time in accumulating educational milestones. So then she applied to a for profit nursing
program with a tuition of about $30,000 a year and she enrolled. As she did that, she really wasn't quite clear on how much she ended up in loans, but she estimated that at the time I interviewed,
she had about $20,000 in loans.
And so she started in the fall semester. Her brother had a family crisis that was very painful for her, that she was distressed about and then she had bad luck. She was driving to school one day and
she was in the car and a young woman who had had her driver's license for two days ran into her and pushed her into oncoming traffic. She was injured and her car was totaled. As Tim Black shows in
his excellent book "When a Heart Turns Rock Solid," simply one event like this can be very influential for some of these working class kids. But what was interesting and important was that her
knowledge of how institutions work turned out to be pivotal. She had been raised in a rich close extended family with many aunts and uncles. In fact when we were there, when she was 10 years old,
everyone always presumed that I was an aunt or there was just literally no other category in that neighborhood other than being a relative.
And so she expected the instructors to be warm, compassionate, and deeply concerned about her welfare and she was hurt by their indifference to her new challenges with the car accident. As she said,
"Some of the people weren't very receptive. Their disposition was like they just seem so mean and I just felt like they weren't really sympathetic or empathetic. They treat it like a business. You
know, and one my professors, she wasn't a bad professor, but the time of my car accident, I was always worrying about school and sometimes I put the school over my health. And this particular teacher
I called her during the time of the accident, I told her I was in a car accident and she was like okay, well, when you come back just make sure you get the materials, you know, the next lecture. And
I was like okay. I was in a car accident and you didn't say you were okay?"
So he or she had a mismatch between her understanding of what was an appropriate relationship between professors and students and what was the professor's definition of what was a routine interaction
with all students. She, after a difficult semester in that school, if you got lower than 75% you could be terminated and before the accident she was hovering around 73.6%, but she was pretty
confident that she would make it and then her grades fell and she was terminated. She was terminated in December and she was devastated. And she waited until late January before she wrote a letter.
And when she wrote a letter, first she called a professor who she had liked but that person didn't get back to her and went on maternity leave, and then she contacted the Dean's office. And the
Dean's office said this, "They asked me did I wait so long to write a letter. And I was telling her that I went through a lot and I was going to go through a lot and mentally I just wasn't prepared.
I didn't want to write a letter and try to come back if I wasn't focused because that would be like another recipe for disaster. So I did it when I was mentally prepared and when I was ready and I
explained that to her. And she recommended I write a letter to the Dean and I received a letter from the Dean," and she rejected her request.
By asking Tara why she waited so long to write a letter, the Dean of Nursing was implicitly suggesting that the letter should have been written earlier. Indeed, in universities where I've worked
faculty take the stance that they can be flexible, but they need to know about students' experiences right away. And also they are more or less demanding the students reveal personal information so
the professor can scrutinize and evaluate this information. And for Tara, that felt uncomfortable to reveal that information. She said, "I wasn't comfortable."
Fast forward another couple of years and she has just begun yet another nursing program, you know, she has determination which cost $25,000 over two years. So her total debt is likely to be over
$40,000. She's always been a terrible test taker and of course to become a nurse you have to pass the state boards. And she's very anxious about that. She says she's going to get her Master's and on
the one hand, she's confident, but on the other hand, she's anxious about if she can pass the state boards. But if she doesn't pass the state boards, then she will not have other options despite her
formidable investment in this pathway.
And so what they knew mattered. And in these individualized, customizes lives each child in some ways has a unique set of configuration of challenges, but in the general pattern of help seeking seemed
to me to be similar over time and by class. And Jessica Calarco has an article, "I Need Help," where she followed children who were in third, fourth, and fifth grade and they were all in the same
classroom for that time. And the teacher would say if you have questions, ask for help. And she describes the working class kids like raising their hand and waving while the middle class kid would
like pick up their notebook and go charging across the classroom and flag down the teacher. Now the working class kids had observed the middle classmates do this over time, but she still observed
class differences in these help seeking behaviors.
So in addition to what they knew, who they knew matter. It's long established in sociology that birds of a feather flock together as in that famous article or this piece by DePrete and others about
stratification in social networks. Furthermore, we live in an economy where it's estimated that about one-half of jobs are filled through social networks. If we had a different mechanism for hiring
people where we were less dependent on social networks, then this stratification would be less consequential. But for the young people in my study, their social networks were heavily stratified. So
who they knew varied and the networks were not only larger, but as Bonnie Erickson pointed out in the context piece, crucially they were more varied. While the working class employees had smaller
networks and they were mostly from high school friends, family, work contacts, or sometimes neighborhoods.
And so Stacey as I've shown has these large and varied networks from multiple sources. I want to just talk briefly about Karl Greeley and Harold McAllister, a young African-American man, both of whom
wanted better jobs when I talked to them this summer as they were on the cusp of 30. But as they sought to get better jobs, they really relied on their networks which was really fundamentally their
family and their neighborhoods. I know Karl has some impact from work.
Karl Greeley in the seafood department of a store similar to Safeway. He doesn't like seafood actually, but he serves it every day. And his mother had a very serious drug problem and she didn't have
any sisters. Her mother had died and they went to foster care. She got her life together when he was about eight. They came back to live with the mother. So he was a high school dropout and he told
me both when he was 19 and this year, when he was 29, that he wants to go into computers. He is vague about this. Wasn't quite clear what he wanted to do with computers, repairing computers,
programming computers. Just computers. Nor was there anybody in his extended network who could introduce him to somebody who could give him an internship, help him get some experience repairing or
help him get an opportunity to learn more. Rather his networks were, as he said, "A lot are in construction and one fellow had gotten a really good job," he said, "as a school district janitor."
Harold McAllister, an African-American young man had hopes and dreams of having an interesting job. So he said, "I'd like to have some sort of business, maybe a barber shop or a bar, something like
that. That's what I want. I want something I can wake up every morning and do. That's the type of job I want. Something that I'm going to wake up and be excited about. I don't want to wake up and
feel like a robot. Okay, I got to go to work. I just can't do that. That's what the restaurant felt like. I'm not progressing in here." He began working when he was 15, but by the time he was about
25 he'd worked 10 years in this restaurant which he had gotten through a family contact. He felt he had blocked mobility. Other people were being promoted and he wasn't. I asked him directly if he
thought it was connected to race. He said it was not. He said he was kind of a big guy, he's kind of shy, almost taciturn and not very social and he just said he wasn't a good fit for them.
He's now on the streets selling crack cocaine. His mother is distraught over this, but he wants to get out. He and she both want him to do something else among other things, for his safety. But it was
interesting as they had a very large and vibrant extended family network when he was 10 and again when he was 19. But I the last 10 years, that has faltered and really shattered. And so among other
things when he was in jail -- he was incarcerated for about 16 months -- and his mother who said, you know, she doesn't do jail, gave money to his sister, $200, to give to him. It's complicated how
you bring money to people in jail and figuring out how to visit people in jail. It's very complicated. And to his outrage, his sister kept the money and didn't pass it along to him. His other sister,
he felt, misrepresented the situation that he was doing fine and didn't need visitors. Ms. McAllister's relationship with her sisters have also fallen apart and she said it's like a dog eat dog world
there. So there are no longer these big family get togethers for Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays. Ms. McAllister very much wants to have this to happen. She was in an accident on a
bus and she hired a lawyer that she saw on TV and she's hoping that her ship will come in and she'll get a large payout. And using that, she's hoping to buy a house so she can have more extended
family gatherings. But the point is that compared to Stacey Marshall, Harold already had smaller networks, but now they're even more constricted because of family conflict.
And this issue of family conflict and difficulty trusting people including people in the network has been demonstrated, I think, by other research in the field. Though it gets less attention, often
people just presume that networks will be a resource, for example, for people getting out of jail from incarceration.
And in a forthcoming piece, Jessica Hardie describes a qualitative study of white middle class and black middle class girls and she shows how these middle class white parents just gave unsolicited
advice and showered these high school girls with advice and made offers for connection, introduced them to people, and helped them foster their careers. And the networks were smaller for the black
middle class girls, but they also had this varied connection where they made very important connections which helped them in their life paths. So who their parents knew was key and who the young
adults knew was particular key.
So in addition to what they knew and who they knew, they all faced institutions. We have some great books which talk about institutions. Mario Small, for example, shows how this parent involvement
requirement created ties among the parents and the child care center and [INDISCERNIBLE] has talked about upperly mobile youth being able to navigate institutions. But I think of institutions as like
the 800 pound gorilla which are completely squarely on the life path of young adults. And they have to learn how to navigate around them. And it's a little bit unpredictable what problems which young
adults will have, but here's an example of different kinds of challenges which young adults face in navigating institutions including some of the young people in my study.
And so things can and do go wrong as they navigate the transition to adulthood and institutions are relatively inflexible. They're often by definition bureaucratic and they can be inflexible knowing
how to get maneuver and how to get the institution to work for you is a key life skill.
I want to talk briefly about Katie Brindle, the young white woman who grew up in a poor family. Her mother has now passed; who died at 54. And she has a contentious relationship with her older sister
who is deeply religious, married, has three kids. And I also want to use in a very unusual example from a different data set of a young man who had quite a lot of upward mobility and I had to go to a
different data set because of course I didn't have anybody in unequal childhoods who have that kind of upward mobility. And so with two doctoral students, Tina Wu and Heather Krull, we interviewed 30
adults whose parents were high school graduates or high school dropouts who did not have any college. And the young adults or the adults had usually two degrees like an M.D., a J.D., an M.B.A., a
very prestigious degree and we left out people who had a Master's Degree to be a teacher to get people who were really at the top of the stratification system.
And he is the exception that proves the rule because in his mobility journey, he had very important help from cultural guides. Now of course again, it's crucial to think about institutions here and
the kinds of institutions young adults can counter. And so Tara and Stacey encountered different kinds of institutions and in elite suburban high schools compared to inner city high schools, there
simply -- students get different amounts of help. And in community colleges compared to Ivy League, they're not advising that they get as helpful. But also the academic rigor also matters and one
study found that New York City high school students who were entering City University of New York community colleges, a majority needed at least one remedial course.
Katie Brindle tried a number of times to gain an education. When I interviewed her she had four children, only three of whom lived with her and she was living with a guy, a truck driver,
African-American, who made about $1800 a month take home, but he gave $700 to his ex-wife and children and he would go down there every other week to see his children from his first marriage. So this
summer, she thought she might try to enroll in a community college and go back to school. And she wanted to go to a college that would start with the fall term. And she said, "I actually enrolled a
few weeks ago, but the problem is, I don't know how to do the site. The site is pretty weird. And they sent me back, I did it online. You have to track and email." And she's using her phone here.
"And I'm thinking, what the hell is this? There were like steps. There were all these steps. And I'm like I need to go to school and tell them, look, I enrolled. I need you to help. And the placement
test -- they wanted me to schedule a placement test. And instead of just calling them and scheduling it, they want me to go through nine different steps to do the placement test. Like, are you
serious? Why do you want me to do all this online when I can call you and we can have a conversation? You set the date and time and I'll show up with my I.D. and a damn pencil."
She also as she described it, welfare, enrolled her in an accelerated dental technician in a for profit vocational program. "Welfare paid for it," she said. But the pace of the course was slow and she
was one of the two students who actually passed the exam, but the lack of intellectual rigor in the course did not serve her well. She went into the labor market. She said, "It was an accelerate
course. I did fabulous on all the book stuff and all that, but I swear my whole class was slow. Like really slow girls. They were all just not that bright. And only two of the people out of the whole
class 'cause at the end of the course you have to go take the state test for dental radiology or whatever and only two of us passed. Me and another older lady. And all the other girls, they failed it
and they took so long to learn the book stuff that we didn't have time for the clinical stuff. And like there are always labs. It was like cramming. It was ridiculous and I would always do good."
"So when I went out to do her extern like an internship, I went to this little Indian man's office, this dentist where I was doing my extern and he asked me to go get something. And in class, I knew
what stuff and I knew what it's used for. But I didn't know what it looks like. And he started yelling and cursing at me so I left and I cried and I said I'm never going back. And that's exactly what
happened. I left and I cried and I never went back."
Now as her sister before her, her sister had been engaged in sex work and actually right around the time of "Unequal Childhoods." And over her sister's vehement objections, Katie Brindle was involved
in that line of work as well. And when the oldest kids, one was 3 and one was 1, had different fathers, and she was on the road for a while. And she came back and her sister called the police. She
was working in a hotel. The sister called the police had her arrested and facilitated the children being placed with the mother of the father, the baby's father, where this young girl who's now 9
remains to this day though she has now shared custody. And Katie has sought for years to get back custody of these children and she and Michael have two kids together, a 3 year old and an 18 month
old. So she has a 13 year old, a 9 year old, a 3 year old, an 18 month old and the 9 year old she's never really been able to get custody back. And so she has shared custody, but it's a difficult
situation in navigating these institutions are very difficult for her.
Nick Nevins is an unusual guy. He went to a not very particularly academic rigorous high school. He had a 4.0 and extremely high test scores and he caught the eye of a high school counselor. And so
the high school counselor introduced him to a doctor who had taken a special interest in people like Nick. And so he said, "It was a pretty amazing experience because we really didn't -- we meaning
his dad and his mom and him -- didn't have a really good sense for how to start, you know, the process. So we had a meeting with him like me and my parents and his wife and they did something about a
list of schools. I'm thinking about how to apply. They read my essay and they helped me revise it. It was a huge help."
Now Dr. O'Flanagan knew something that Nick did not. That in the end with a financial aid package, private elite schools including Ivy League schools can be comparable to state schools. In this case
in New York, similar to SUNY Binghamton or SUNY Albany. And so he was admitted to Columbia and the price difference was very modest that he went to Columbia. So although he had been valedictorian
taken all three of his AP classes that the high school had offered, he said, "In retrospect it was not a very academic high school." He was not prepared. His first set of mid-terms in his fall
semester brought a flood of C's which was a shock and if it had persisted it would have killed likely his chance of medical school. Fortunately, he made friends with somebody who was in a different
social world than he was and he said, "We became study partners and I started learning what he was doing and I really had to figure out how to study." His grades went up and he graduated with a GPA
of 3.94. His major was biology.
He said as with other first generation students he "never was very good at taking advantage of advising, visiting office hours or gaining help." He said, "I have some notion of independence that I can
figure this out." And he was also he had to say appalled by the helplessness and dependence he witnessed among Ivy League undergraduates. He had a work study being a computer support for the dorm and
he discovered that other students were helpless on basic tasks. "All these kids came to school with a brand new computer. They just like couldn't take it out of the box. They didn't know how to use
it. It was like foreign to them. Thousands of dollars are spent on this machine and they didn't know how to operate it? I remember thinking God these people have all these fancy computers and they
don't know even how to open them up? But my roommate was good." His roommate was also from a first generation family. "He didn't even come with a computer. He was like my parents said there's a
computer lab."
So he and his roommate had patterns of resourcefulness and autonomy that he felt was missing from his peers from more affluent backgrounds even today he said he feels like his upbringing has been
helpful. As he says, "You know, my upbringing's been a great strength in many ways because I understand the value of a dollar and I think that's good and in many respects there's a groundedness. And
I think some of the things I've learned from my background have been a strength to me."
To get into medical school you usually need an interview. And as he said, "I think I interviewed poorly. I mean I've gotten a lot better over time, but I've always been a shy person. And I had a big
ego and I did well in the MCATS, I had a good GPA, I was coming from Columbia, I had some research experience. I thought this is gonna be great. I'm gonna get into med school. So I probably only
applied to five or six med schools; Columbia, Harvard, SUNY Stonybrook, Albany, and one other. So I got accepted at SUNY Stonybrook, rejected at Harvard and waitlisted at Columbia and I was like, oh
my God. I had like my crisis, but I was very fortunate. I had another work study job in the emergency department at Columbia and they sort of said, you're on the waiting list. They talked to some
people and they really helped me out a lot. It was a huge help."
So in Nick's experience with upper mobility, he had cultural guides. He had cultural guides when the high school counselor introduced him to Dr. O'Flanagan, when he had a friend who taught him how to
study, and when he got help getting off the waitlist for Columbia. If any one of those things had not happened, his plan to be a doctor would have been put in jeopardy. And so the cultural knowledge
turned out to be key as he says in retrospect. "In retrospect, if there hadn't been an outside person to step in and say someone should help you, this is the person, you should meet with him, you
know, I just don't know what would have happened. I come from a family full of stubborn independent people, you know, the traits that I see were keeping me from, hey, someone -- him asking -- hey,
someone, where should I apply? My parents I think are the same way. They're sort of hesitant to ask people for help. And, you know, 'cause they figure that the people will take care of it like the
people in institutions."
There are a number of institutional programs that seem to make higher education more transparent and more accessible to young adults. There's an excellent program at CUNY called CUNY Start where for
people who have remedial needs, they only pay $75 which includes tuition and books. And they take all of their remedial classes together and this program has helped raise the pass rate significantly
and retention has also improved and there have been other programs as well.
So to summarize, although to be sure economic factors are very important in daily life. In my comments today, I feel when we look at social class our models are not sufficiently developed about the
mechanisms about how key life moments unfold. And too often, I think, we just look at success and we don't look at near misses. Like what would have happened to Stacey Marshall, for example, if she
hadn't had her mother hounding her at 11:00 on the phone. And Tara Carroll, this one F has been very problematic for her as she sought to go to nursing school. And here she intervened pretty
aggressively to write a letter, but the timing was wrong. She didn't do it immediately. She did it six weeks after she was dismissed. In addition to what they knew, who they knew mattered. Stacey
Marshall had large varied networks of the other researchers shown nationally and Karl Greeley knew people. He wanted to go into computers, but it was just unclear how to make it happen as it is
similarly for Harold McAllister. How can he become a barber or get out of selling drugs?
And so what they know and who they know then shaped how they navigate institutions. They brought with them a set of cultural resources as they confronted institutional challenges and Katie Brindle
faltered as she sought to sign up for community college because of the nine steps involved. Nick Nevins also had potential issues that could have thrown him off track, but he was able to negotiate it
thanks to the cultural guides he had. And so I think we need to think about these individually insignificant experiences which then create cumulative advantages.
So what are we to make of this? My argument is that if we illuminate the role of non-economic factors it can be useful and it can help illuminate in a much more direct fashion the role that knowledge
expertise, social networks, and cultural skill can matter in navigating life pass. Now when I did "Unequal Childhoods," it was striking how much more polite the working class and poor kids were than
the middle class kids. The middle class kids would whine, they would badger their parents, they would argue with their parents, they'd go on and on and on, you know. And the working class kids were
extremely polite. They would sometimes sit in church for hours and never complain at all. And they had these deep rich kinship networks that took up for their siblings and cousins.
And so I think you can argue that the middle class strategy has fostered dependence by the part of middle class kids as well as a sense of entitlement to criticize what's wrong in America. A sense of
entitlement where they criticize other people. By contrast, the working class and poor youth exhibited really American individualism. They did it themselves and sometimes they faced challenges and in
some cases they were overwhelmed or confused so despite their grit, they often faltered.
And so these individually insignificant cumulatively important moments are really where I think we need to focus our efforts in the field in studying social class. Now, of course, there are many other
forms of inequality which are important and the purpose today is not to say the relative weight of class or race or gender in shaping life outcomes. Rather the purpose is to shine a bright light on
the mechanisms through which structure is reproduced in daily life or sometimes contested as with Nick Nevins and to understand the role of institutions in this crucial process.
And so let me -- and I think it's especially important here to focus on the groundedness of working class families. There are many flaws with middle class child rearing including the latest work in
the public about affluenza and I think we need to look more critically at middle class child rearing and see it's not the intrinsic benefits of it, but how it provides advantages in getting ahead.
And then just as I close I wanted to say a couple of words on a slightly different theme. I think there are conceptual implications of this for other fields, not just family life of course, but other
areas of life, health, and mortality. In fact, I did a study with Elliott Wineger looking at how parents decide where to live and where to send their kids to school -- little kids, kindergartners for
the most part. And on the most economically consequential decision of their lives, we found especially parents just asked around. They asked other people. So like in the Bay Area they say oh Palo
Alto has good schools, Orinda has good schools. And many of the parents didn't even look at the test scores, they just talked to their family. But because they were in different networks, they were
often guided to different school districts. So it's not as if the middle class parents worked harder to end up enrolling their kids in schools that were considered better nor was it solely a matter
of economics because there was quite a bit of economic variability in housing prices within a school district.
So I think as we've seen with Robert Rike last night and Jay McCloud, I think there's really wonderful contributions of sociology can make the world, Juliet Schor mentioned as well as Bill Wilson. But
I think one of the key challenges is to think more about the contributions. And of course hard times have also come to academia and as higher education is under attack and things are very difficult.
And so many of our doctoral students are rightly anxious about where their Ph.D. will lead them. But I'd like to point to an A.S.A. report about if you broaden the definition of what you do with a
Ph.D. And one could argue that sociological insights are surely needed in non-profits, government, and businesses. Then the report indicated there's a perfect fit between the number of Ph.D.'s being
produced and the number of jobs being available. But to do that means we need to think more deeply about how to help our undergraduates and graduates learn these skills to have [INDISCERNIBLE] with
alumni and to help faculty learn more about this important part of the process.
But in addition I think that it's really important to share our results with the world. I remember once in receiving an award, Arlie Hochschild said we shouldn't just be talking to people in here, we
should be talking to people out there. And I meet many young people who are eager to share their results, but don't necessarily have the skills and this year I've had a task force for engaging
sociology with a creative set of documents about best practices or for people who are trying to learn about blogging and tweeting, how to do it as well. Right now they're on the Just Publics website
and they will ultimately migrate over to A.S.A. But we're hoping that this might be a useful tool as they do it. Because in the end, I think sociology is a great field with great ideas and too often
the economists dominate the conversation.
And you folks in the audience are making important and valuable contributions to the world by producing great sociology and I wish you well as you continue in this most important endeavor. Thank you.
Thank you. So in the Imperial Ballroom is free alcohol and food and we invite you there. Just follow the corridor, you'll be there. Thank you.