August 10th, 2013

Plenary Session. Micro Processes as Mechanisms of Inequality


Processes at multiple levels of analysis typically work together to support or undermine durable patterns of inequality between individuals and between social groups. Our task is to locate the key junctures among these multilevel processes that provide the levers by which different sorts of inequalities among people and groups are systematically made or unmade in the contemporary context. As part of this effort, this session focuses our attention on the less familiar micro level of the individual in social context. The first set of speakers address micro-level mechanisms that play significant roles in creating, maintaining, and/or changing racial, gender, and class based inequality. A final speaker looks across the micro-mechanisms that operate in these different types of inequalities to offer a more general analysis of the nature and significance of micro processes in the multilevel production, reproduction, and change of contemporary patterns of inequality.


CECILIA L. RIDGEWAY: Hello everyone. I want to welcome you to our second plenary session of these meetings. My name is Cecilia Ridgeway. I'm the -- this year's president and also the person who put
this together and let me give you a couple of -- just a couple of sentences on, you know, what's the goal here, what are we thinking about and what's the unifying idea behind this session, and then
I'll introduce you to the speakers. I'm -- part of the theme for this meeting is to look at linking micro and macro mechanisms. In order to find key junctures that sustain inequality. Key places
where all the little things come together and keep it going. Allow us to either -- and we want to know that so we can -- if we know how it's made, we got to shot up figuring out how to unmake it. So
that's our goal, right? But as sociologist quite frequently when we think of inequality, we look at it at a rather structural and macro-level. We also know of course that a lot goes on at the
micro-level but it's -- these are a lot -- the mechanisms that actually contribute to overall patterns of inequality that operate at the micro-level are a little less familiar to us as a group of
sociologists. So I organized this plenary to focus our attention on some of that. And I asked what I consider the best minds in the micro-business to -- who think about inequality and different
dimensions of inequality, right? Inequality is not one thing. So I asked Larry Bobo to think about micro mechanisms that are involved in racial equality. I asked Shelley Correll to think about
mechanisms involved in gender inequality. Annette Lareau to think about mechanisms involved in class-based inequality. And then poor old Jane McLeod here at the end gets the honor of trying to put it
together and look at cross linkages between this. Now, let me say a little bit about who these people are and why I chose them other than you know all about them already, but Lawrence Bobo, right? Is
a Harvard professor of Sociology and African American Studies and distinguished scholar of race, right? Shelley Correll is professor of Sociology at Stanford University and also the director of the
Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Annette Lareau is a professor at University of Pennsylvania and author of a legendary book on developmental class Unequal Childhoods. Jane McLeod is a professor
at Indiana University and she's also one of the editors of a forthcoming new handbook on the Social Psychology of Inequality. And so she has just been besides her own levels spanning work, she has
also been reading what all these other people have had and this is why I asked her, as I said she has a very difficult job to talk. We're going to -- so now I'm going to turn things over to the
speakers. We're going to take them in the order that they're on the program with -- starting with Larry Bobo. When we're finished, we will have an opportunity, I believe, for a few questions and
there are mics in the -- in the center there. Now, when we do that I'm going to ask you to give sort of briefly framed questions just so that we don't spend a lot of time asking long winded questions
we don't have time to answer, to keep us moving. The one or two sentences questions but we sure to have a few minutes for that. We'll do that and then I have -- I do have to warn you a couple of our
speakers will have to leave right at 2:30 when the session is over so they won't be available to talk afterwards. Keep that in mind about answering the question because they have -- they have to go
to future sessions next. They have a 2:30 commitment. Okay. So I think this is going to be fun so we're going to start first with Larry Bobo.
LAWRENCE D. BOBO: Thank you very much, Cecilia. Let me begin by congratulating you both on the insight of organizing this session and your election as president of the ASA acknowledging your own many,
many, deep and insightful and long standing contributions to our understandings of the dynamics of inequality particularly at the micro-level. So I think it's still worth another round of applause.
Now, I hope I can master the way we're going to do PowerPoint here and how it dovetails with the several stacks of paper I have in front of me. My remarks this afternoon, I have entitled Racial
Inequality and Attitudes: Reflections on Some of the Micro processes Involved. Sociological analyses of racial inequality often focus on the major structural domains of social life. In particular
much research and theorizing takes care to analyze where minority group member stand relative to members of the dominant group in material well-being in terms of the economy or labor market and in
the polity or that is in terms of matters of law, rights, public policy, political influence and representation. In all of this work, sociologist make the usual assumption that race is fundamentally
a social construction what we regard as racial groups, categories and identities are at bottom, social creations. They are not givens of the natural environment. As such, they are historically
derived, situationally, contextually variable and highly contingent upon intersection with other factors such as gender, sexuality and social class. It is thus immediately obvious by that freight
train I've just listed there that race, race-related phenomena and racial inequality require an engagement with micro-level, social psychological processes of meaning-making with attitudes,
identities and culture in one simple term that is, one cannot sensibly speak about racial inequality without immediately invoking a concern with ideas, with meaning-making processes with perceptual
boundary creating and the like. My remarks here today tackle a few of this great array of issues where sociological thinking about racial inequality needs to be mindful about what we think we know
and in this instance mostly about racial attitudes. Time of course is limited here and thus, I cannot possibly attempt a capacious and synthetic review of all the micro-level processes and research
approaches that may shed light on the nature and dynamics of racial inequality. There are too many particular topics, too many methods, too many findings and results. What I will do instead use very
closely to what we have learned largely from the survey based literature which I know best on changing racial attitudes in the US. This will give what I say not only a very particular methodological
emphasis but result in a very heavy focus on the black-white divide in the US and just proportion of attention to the attitudes of white Americans. Q and A might allow an opportunity to elaborate and
expand on some of that. It's important for me to add one further caveat here. The current state of our understanding of racial inequality itself is deeply complex, multi-dimensional and contested in
many respects, not merely within sociology, but obviously in the larger society we all share and inhabit. I take as a given for purposes of this talk that despite enormous progress in the post-Civil
Rights Era, there remain substantial material racial economic inequality with respect to employment, poverty, family incomes, wealth accumulation, educational achievement and attainment, occupational
standing and workplace experiences with racial discrimination including direct contemporary discrimination playing a significant element in the production and reproduction of these many inequalities.
Likewise, for the domain of legal right status, public policy and political representation much has improved since the time of formerly Jim Crow restrictions but in this age and quite appropriate
here in this city of stop-and-frisk, of racialized mass incarceration, of punitive welfare state, voter suppression efforts and efforts to derail the voting rights act and a relentless legal and
political assault on affirmative action, one cannot see an end in inequality in the sociopolitical sphere arriving any near moment either. And as many of you know, I have written extensively on what
I regard as our fundamental societal transition from the old regime of Jim Crow racism to one of the more modern or Laissez-Faire or free market races regime that dominates today. If there's a court
message to my remarks, it consists in the following. The prevailing attitudes, beliefs and identities on race both respond to but also a condition and constraint change in the economy and the polity.
There is an effect or reciprocal process of influence from institutional arrangements and conditions in the economy and polity on the one hand, two on and often from attitudes, beliefs and
identities. No full sociological account of racial inequality can safely ignore this complex in relationship. Now, this observation has bearing at the micro social, meso and micro social levels of
analysis. At the macro-level, the key patterning of attitudes and beliefs are a feature of the larger social system or social structure if you will. At the meso-level of particular institutions or
settings, the rules of operations, attitudes and identities matter particularly among key leaders and social actors. At the macro-level or face to face interaction, an individual taste, choice and
behavior both conscious and unconscious, explicit and implicit, attitudes, beliefs and identities obviously matter. That said, I was post a question, what part if any do racial attitudes play here? I
will tackle this question. How am I doing? Here we go. By looking briefly at some key data mainly from the General Social Survey regarding on racial attitudes. This dive into data can be
conceptualized or divided into -- to two big parts and one of those big parts is an effect, looking back, a snapshot from 40 years ago and focuses on portraying to you the ebb of the old Jim Crow
races theology and its popular acceptance. A second big element of it deals with what I regard as the complex of outlooks that constitute the new or Laissez-Faire races perspective about social
distance, preferences, numbers of minorities in a social setting mattering in the particular domain, mattering from public and impersonal to private and deeply impersonal. About the role of
government here, about the rejection of particular forms, in particular of strong and for affirmative action, about the persistence of negative stereotypes, about a pattern of attribution of
inequality that faults the cultural characteristics of African Americans and a deep politically potent and powerful resentment of black demands for social economic and political change. And then at
the end I'll offer some reflections on attitudes, behaviors and what all those might mean for sociology at large. So let's look at some data and I think this maybe hard to digest in a room this big
and some of these figures are kind of skeletal but please bear with me. Let me see if I can get this to play nice. No? One more. Did it do it? Tadah. I'll do that. All right. When the GSS began in
1972, 1973, 40 years ago, it contained only 14 racial attitude questions. Here they are kind of quickly summarized for you. Remember, 1972 is clearly the post-Civil Rights Era. We've done the Civil
Rights Act of '64, Voting Rights Act of '65, open housing legislation following King's assassination in '68. Some of these questions date back to very early surveys from the 1940s. Second point to
note here. I've percentaged everything in terms of the kind of pro-Jim Crow, pro-segregation, discrimination in a black direction. This matters because as you will see, most of these items by the
time this is first asked in '72 show very little support for a Jim Crow sort of outlook. Only three percent of white's fending -- defending, white preference in access to jobs, 13 percent defending
absolutely segregated schools, only 25 percent saying they'd never consider voting for a black candidate for president. So most of them show little support. There are some exceptions to that pattern
and I'll return in a moment to what those are and instead settle for more of a verbal summary rather than like you're trying to digest all this data. First of all, there are three trends here that
could be regarded as a generally optimistic sort. As I've already emphasized the endorsement of Jim Crow principles yielded to prefer the ideals at least in principle of integration and equal
treatment, that this endorsement of integration seem to reach beyond mere lip service or principle and that it could involve non-trivial integration of social settings. And these differences really
were sharply defined by region of the country, by age and by levels of education. Better educated younger people especially in northern areas drove this decline of the Jim Crow outlook. Where are we
here? There are more pessimistic trends here even in those 1972 data. It was clear that the number of blacks mentioned in a hypothetical contact situation mattered enormously. There was no sense in
people -- that people were saying, "We're indifferent to race." Not at all. Compensation of a setting certainly mattered. Next, even in 1972, '73, the evidence suggested no enthusiasm among many
white Americans for strong sense of a government or societal obligation to act to reduce racial inequality. Perhaps, the strongest case of that was the opposition to school busing which was at a full
86 percent in 1972. So they told survey research, "Uh-huh. Heck, no. We ain't doing that." Six, there were also early signs of what we now tend to recall racial resentment or collective racial
resentment. An old question which asked black shouldn't push themselves where they're not wanted got a well over two-thirds of white Americans agreeing with that in 1972. So that's the snapshot from
there. What does it feel like as we progress over the next four decades? This picture and you're supposedly to get the feel of movement away from endorsement of Jim Crow which is what this by and
large suggests is that we've seen this -- and if -- and if we had to figure going all the way back to 1940 which I'm not trying to do or be even clearer that this repudiation of Jim Crow is huge,
sweeping, and across multiple domains across a number of this so-called racial principle type issues. And I'll skip ahead here in lieu of time. If these questions were post to African Americans and
not all of them were certainly none in the early '40s. Some add it in the '60s and most none until the '70s or even '80s out of fear of insulting black respondents. You'll see that African Americans
in the whole rejected the Jim Crow outlook whether it dealt with schools, laws against intermarriage, segregating neighborhoods or whether homeowners should be allowed to discriminate in access to
housing. Start -- surveys have tried to update some of the older questions in ways opposing these issues that began in the '40s, '50s and '60s and so later in 1990 questions asked about inch --
willingness to enter more substantially integrated neighborhood. So living in a neighborhood where half of the residents would be African Americans. About 50 percent of whites opposed this in 1990. A
fairly high percentage expressed indifference rather than openly opposing it, very few favor it. Though by the end of this time period 2010-2011 for these data, we got a rise from one and ten to one
and four expressing openness to living in such a substantially integrated neighborhood. But you should always think about the flipside of that which is still very high levels of opposition to
substantial integration. What about those public policy questions? Beginning in the '70s the GSS began asking on a regular basis about whether there really should be some sense of a government
obligation to assist African Americans get over past discrimination or whether they should be subject to no special treatment, whatever. Perhaps a surprise to some, 60 percent of white Americans in
these surveys has essentially said from the mid '70s that no, government has no special obligation. There should be no special treatment of African Americans and that's been pretty durable since that
time period. In addition, in subsequent studies they try to specify some of that feeling beginning in the 1990s folks were asked if they perceived affirmative action as costly to white individuals in
particular in access to jobs, and a fairly high percentage, two out of five have long seen that as somewhat likely, a non-trivial percentage have seen it as very likely. There's been some slight rise
in the percentage in the last five to ten years saying that it's not very likely. Bottom line is people are worried that affirmative action may has -- may have negative consequences for many whites
in the labor market. If we look at the African American sense here, and even more surprising results occurs. Of course there are huge black white differences with substantial fractions of the black
population believing the government does indeed have a real obligation to undo the injuries of past discrimination in our history of inequality. However, even among African-Americans, we observed a
declining trend in support for a strong government obligation to help falling from nearly 70 percent in 1974 down to 40 percent in 2010. This is going to get complicated by some other data in a
moment, but please do bear that in mind. In addition we asked a very strong version of affirmative action. In effect, borrowing language from a policy change in the New York Times I believe
introduced the '94 referring to affirmative action as preferences and we asked in effect whether or not black should be given preference in hiring and promotion. Virtually on white Americans roughly
90 percent opposed it and had remained steadily opposed to it presumably because it implies strict quotas. A non-trivial number of the black population has also opposed this very strong form of
introducing affirmative action. Of course, I don't have time to do it in detail, if we talk more about access to education and access to education for those who are working hard, doing all the right
things, et cetera, support for some affirmative action or outreach is non-trivially high in that sort of specified circumstance. One of the things going on here, and theoretically always regarded as
a core feature of racial attitudes or beliefs about the attributes likely behavior patterns of members of a racial minority group. There's strong evidence that negative racial stereotypes remain
widespread. Again in the 1990s, new questions were introduced to measure it. Two thirds of whites end up rating blacks as -- or whites as more hardworking than blacks, 56 percent as less intelligent
than whites. There have been some slight downward trend, but still non-trivial percentage is giving those sorts of responses. And there are many other traits we could ask about, I just wanted to
illustrate it for the moment with these two. The stereotypes have some bearing for the public policy questions as does the issue of whether or not people see significant racial economic inequality at
all. There is pretty clear evidence that white Americans do appreciate that African Americans have less in a way of economic resources though there's been some slight uptake in the proportion of
whites thinking that blacks and whites were about equally wealthy. Despite perceiving this gap as we know one can account for inequality in radically different ways, structural versus cultural,
individual versus situational and questions have tried to tap that sort of outlook. If we break it up into time periods to try to get more robust estimates of the black position, the proportion of
white and black Americans explaining racial inequality in terms of racial discrimination is depicted in this figure. Huge black-white differences of course, but striking thing here, movement in more
or less the same direction for both groups which is a decline in their proportion explaining racial inequality in terms of discrimination. Perhaps most largely among the African American population
which is -- corresponds in effect to a curious convergence on the issue of whether culture that is a lack of motivation and will power is at the root of black-white economic inequality. The
proportion of whites offering such an attribution declines from 63 percent in the '70s and '80s to only 50 percent more recently. It rises from 35 percent in the '70s and '80s among blacks to over 40
percent in the more recent period. I'm going to quickly do this last slide and then skip ahead because I'm consuming all of my time here. This next question is called the belief that black should
overcome prejudice without special favors. This is the core modern expression of racial resentment. This is in fact the third rail of American racial and cultural politics. Touch this attitude as a
political figure and you will get electrocuted, zit. It's a very big deal. It is the seedbed in many respects of the launch of the tea party in fact. The sense that African Americans are somehow --
and other minorities, and especially undocumented are getting some special thing from us that they did not deserve, all right. And this shows the trend from 1994 to 2010, no change, two-thirds of
white American endorse it. It's highly emotionally charged, it's hugely political partitions bearing on party ID, vote choice and a variety of policy attitudes like support for social welfare,
spending, belief in the death penalty, whether or not you're going to support weak or strong versions of affirmative action. It means something totally different to black respondents. I don't have
time to fully out -- lay that out, but I'll do so in Q and A if we like. I think -- where am I in this? Yeah, so to start wrapping this up a bit, a key message here today for me is that for my
perspective racial attitudes are important in their own right. It is a sort of vital sociological utility to know what basic principles guiding race relations people assume or prefer to be in place,
to know their willingness to enter or remain in settings with varying degrees of racial mixtures across different domains of life and what role most Americans deem inappropriate for government to
play in addressing remaining racial inequality. Of course a fuller understanding of these outlooks requires also knowing about the behavioral traits and expectations, individuals hold about members
of other groups, and how they perceive and explain patterns of intergroup inequality. Configurations of attitudes yield information on the social climate, political contexts, and identities and
assumptions, individuals will bring in to many varied social interactions and settings. Still it's reasonable to ask what bearing these attitudes have on behavior. It would be a mistake to posit a
mechanistic and invariant attitude behavior connection. I do not assume one. In general, the most carefully conducted in design research show substantial positive connection between attitude and
behavior even in the domain of race. Those studies that do the best job of matching the level of generality or specificity of the attitude measured to the generality or specificity of the behavior
measured that both reliable multi-item measures of attitude and tap reliable multi-item measures of behavior, and to take into account key individual and contextual factors are more likely to find
such ties. For example, attitudes that are highly central or salient to an individual maybe linked far more consistently to potential irrelevant behaviors than those that are not very salient or
central. Likewise, particular situational constraints may impinge upon an attitude behavior congruence we observe. A prejudiced restaurant owner may for example face financial and legal sanctions for
overtly acting on his attitude. This does not render the attitude meaningless or prevent this person from acting in an attitude consistent fashion in other settings or in more subtle less-readily
observed manners in that setting. The key question is less about specific individual behavior and much more about the extent to which this portrait of the patterning and trending attitude is
consistent with relevant societal and behavioral trends and conditions. From this vantage point, the attitude in the record I believe strongly corresponds to many social patterns, conditions and
trends regarding race. The attitude in the record on race sociologically speaking is a key ingredient in the basic constitution and experience of race relations in the United States. Much is
employment rates, earnings, occupational data help to flesh out the economic condition and structure of society, a multi-dimensional map being of racial attitudes and beliefs elucidates the racial
conditions and structures of society. The correspondence between attitudinal trends and related behaviors is strong. For example, in an early point, the attitude data indicated that government
efforts to substantially desegregate schools and communities would likely face resistance. No surprise, they did. The survey certainly captured well the high and once implacable opposition to school
busing for desegregation. Moreover and again, from the earliest point in which questions were asked, attitude studies pointed to likely controversy over the reach and nature of affirmative action
efforts regarding both educational opportunity and employment workplace opportunity. Results point into persistent negative stereotyping, appreciable affective or affective emotional distancing,
widespread collective resentment, continue to suggest considerable bases for friction, tension, misunderstanding and conflictual interactions along the color line. Now, I've tried to sketch more of a
sensitizing framework and argument today rather than to build an elaborate theoretical architecture. And I've tried to do so with -- and I closely focused on empirical trends to craft some ideas in
close conversation with data. The tone is thus kind of deliberately one of data analyst, not an advocacy or ideologic posture. In adopting the stance, I am reminded of the following quote from the
distinguished historian George Fredrickson who once said, "The responsibility of the historian or sociologist who studies racism is not to moralize and condemn, but to understand this malignancy, so
that it can be more effectively treated, just as a medical researcher studying cancer does not moralize about it, but searches for knowledge that might point the way to a cure." I hope the approach I
sketched here takes us a bit further down that road. Though, even here I am mindful as well that we still live in a racially troubled country in racially troubled times. As Fredrickson himself goes
on to put it, "The legacy of past racism directed at blacks in the United States is more like a bacillus that we have failed to destroy, a live germ that make some of us ill, but -- continues to make
some of us ill, but retains the capacity to generate new strains of a disease for which we have no certain cure. Certainly, one implication of all that I've reviewed today is that some troubling
strains of racism remain. Thank you.
CECILIA L. RIDGEWAY: So next, [inaudible]
SHELLEY CORRELL: Hello. It's good to see you all here. And I just want to start off by saying how honored I am to be on this panel with people whose work I've long admired. What I'm going to do today
is talk about how we might minimize the motherhood penalty. And I use the phrase motherhood penalty to refer to a whole host of disadvantages that researches shown that mothers experience in the paid
labor force. And I want to use this case to really illustrate the -- some of the micro-level mechanisms that contribute to the obdurate patterns of gender inequality we see in society and also to
start thinking about how we might intervene and reduce some of these negative effects. So let me just jump right in and talk about some of the evidence in regard to the motherhood penalty. Perhaps
most visible and at the macro-level is the motherhood wage penalty. There's growing evidence that mothers earn less than other kinds of workers. They earn less than men whether or not those men have
children and they earn less than childless women. This penalty between mothers and childless women persist even with rather extensive statistical controls for things like human capital factors,
workplace factors and the like. And it's what a durable penalty. And it's not of trivial magnitude. In the United States, mothers are in five to seven percent lower wages per child compared to
equivalent childless women. Now, fathers don't usually experience a fatherhood penalty, but there is some evidence that when fathers step outside of the stereotypical breadwinning role they do. So in
one study of over 26,000 financial services managers for example, the researchers found that both men and women who took family leave had a lower likelihood of promotion. So Professor Ridgeway asked
us to talk today about some of the key micro-level -- levers of inequality as she called it, identifying how individual and interpersonal processes produce obdurate pattern of inequality. So in that
spirit, I'm going to start by talking about how these kind of penalties like, this wage penalty come about, how is it that mothers come to be disadvantaged in the workplace. And then I'll turn to
talking about four possible interventions, mother's own efforts and whether mothers can simply work hard and overcome the motherhood penalty. I want to then consider whether common organizational
policies that have been promoted to reduce gender bias might reduce the bias that mothers face. And then I'll talk about the role of family friendly legal mandates and voluntary family friendly
workplace policies and ask if those can mitigate the -- this penalty. And when I use the term family friendly here, what I'm talking about are legal mandates and family friendly policies that are
intended to help workers balance the competing demands of work and family. My conclusion will be that legal mandates hold promise, but all three of these other interventions, at least in their
current form fall short. And this will not be to say that workplaces can't successfully intervene, instead I will end by concluding that if we want to reduce the disadvantages that mothers and other
caregivers experience in the workplace, it's going to require a deep cultural change to the norms that govern our workplace. So why are mothers penalized in the workplace? The first micro-level
mechanism I want to consider is something I'll call status-based discrimination. The fact that mothers experience a wage penalty with rather extensive statistical controls in place has led
researchers including myself to expect that perhaps what's going on is that there's a bias against mothers in workplace evaluation processes. And perhaps some of the most direct evidence of this bias
argument comes from experiments that have a design roughly like the one here in the sketch. And there's quite a few of these at this -- at this point in time. In these studies, what researchers
generally do is have raters evaluate two equivalently qualified candidates for a job, one of whom is a parent and one of whom is a non-parent. The researchers established that the two candidates are
equivalently qualified by pre-testing the cap -- the candidates' application materials, their resumes, their performance reviews and things like that with no mention of parental status. And after
establishing that the application materials for the two candidates produce equivalent ratings, the researchers then suddenly mark one of the two as a parent. You can see it here in the figure with
those little small bathroom figures. And then they evaluate whether parental status leads to a bias in how the candidates are evaluated. So these experiments show clear evidence of bias. As I said,
there are several of these studies at this point, but I'll talk about a study that I did with Steve Benard and In Paik. In this study, what we did is we conducted two different experiments. One was
an experiment with undergraduate participant and the other was an audit experiment of actual employers. Both of these studies found considerable evidence of bias against mothers. They found that
childless women were approximately twice as likely to be called back or recommended for hire by an employer. They found that when childless women were recommended for a job, they were offered
significantly higher salaries of approximately $11,000. In this study, fathers were not disadvantaged on any of our measures and instead were often advantaged including being offered significantly
higher salaries. So, there seems to be a fatherhood advantage, not a fatherhood penalty. We were further interested in the mechanism producing these disadvantages. So -- and so what we did is we
asked some questions that really got at that and we found -- that we found support for this idea that mothers experience what we call status-based discrimination. What I mean by that is motherhood
like gender and race is a devalued status in the workplace, which led evaluators to expect that mothers were less committed to their jobs and less competent at them. And it was for this reason that
they offered mothers lower salaries and were less likely to hire them. To the extent that mothers were thought to be less committed to their jobs, they violate what Joan Williams has referred to as
the ideal-worker norm. The norm that expects workers to be fully committed to their -- to paid work and to be always there for their employers. And this is one of those norms that I think will need
to changed if -- in the workplace if we want to reduce the motherhood penalty. Now, while there's a lot of experimental evidence mounting in favor of statistics -- of status-based discrimination,
evidence using other kinds of data also find support for this mechanism. So, interview data with employers finds that employers frequently report believing that mothers are less committed to work
than other kinds of workers. And an interesting analysis of discrimination cases by Vicki Schultz finds that in discrimination cases, employers would report not considering women with children for
promotion because they believe mothers were not interested in advancement so, again, indicating a lack of commitment. And interestingly, courts in the United States have been very receptive to this
lack of interest argument. So, the question is what can we do? So, I'll start with this first intervention and ask whether mothers' own efforts can overcome the motherhood penalty. So, the question
we ask here is what if mothers could overcome doubts about their workplace competence and commitments? I mean, that's what produced the disadvantages to begin with. What if they could work harder or
put in longer hours or more face time, making clear that they're always there for their employer? Would this eliminate the discrimination they face? And an experiment designed to answer this
question, Steve Bernard and I essentially replicated the experiment that I told you about earlier but at this point, we also removed any possible ambiguity about mothers' workplace commitment. So, we
included in their evaluation materials performance reviews that had statements like the one you see there on the screen. This is one of the most productive employees our division has hired in recent
memory. Other things that said she's always here, works late nights and weekends. So, we created this sort of heroically committed mother. And to see if that would actually, you know, overcome the
status-based discrimination. And the good news is it did. The mothers with these heroic levels or workplace commitment were now seen as equally competent and committed as their childless peers. And
that's where the good news stops as you could probably guess by a adequate amount of white space on that screen to tell you more. They were all -- these mothers, these heroically committed mothers
were also then seen as more selfish, arrogant, dominating, and less warm, and less likable than mothers whose workplace commitment was more ambiguous. Consequently, they were offered fewer
organizational rewards. So, we call this form of discrimination normative discrimination. So, this is going to be the second micro-level mechanism I'll share with you. And it's based on gendered
expectations that mothers should prioritize family over paid work. So, the way we understand our results is that mothers who display intense commitment to their jobs violate this expectation of
putting family first and this is what resulted in those lower warmth and likeability ratings and ultimately led to fewer organizational rewards. So, in sum, what we see here is that mothers'
increased efforts don't eliminate discrimination. They just change the mechanism that produces it. Now, before going on to solutions, I want to just say a little bit about fathers. At the onset, you
know, I said fathers don't usually experience a wage penalty. But now I want to talk about fathers who actually demonstrates significant responsibility for care giving. Following the same normative
logic, fathers are expected to prioritize paid work over care giving. So, we would expect that fathers who violate these expectations by displaying high levels of commitment to family would
experience normative discrimination. And the studies I cite there at the bottom of the screen show that's the case. Research shows that while breadwinning fathers are viewed as warmer than their
childless counterparts, fathers who take family leave are actually rated more negatively. Further, there's evidence that suggest that employers don't think men should take much leave, if any. This is
a quote that I love. It comes from KT Albiston's work. And basically she did some interviews with men who were trying to take advantage of their federally mandated leave, and this one guy was told by
its -- his employer, "It's okay for you to take a week off, maybe a week and a half but let's not go crazy here." This guy was entitled to 12 weeks of leave but more than a week and a half would've
been seemed crazy for him to -- for him to do. I like to think of the combined effect of these two mechanisms, status-based discrimination and normative discrimination as a collision of two norms.
And they create a conundrum for mothers in the workplace. Because stereotypic expectations raise doubts about their workplace commitment, mothers are seen as violating the ideal worker norm that
employers should -- that employees should display intense commitment to their jobs and be always there for their employer. Mothers on the other hand who exert heroic efforts to avoid suspicion about
their workplace commitment violated gendered norm that mothers should prioritize family over paid work. As a result, mothers are either viewed as less competent and committed or they're as seen as
less warm and less likable. Either way, they're offered fewer organizational rewards compared with other kinds of workers. Fathers do not generally experience the same collision between ideal-worker
and gender norms. It's only when they demonstrate intense commitment to family, they're violating both the ideal-worker norm and the gender breadwinner norm that they receive fewer organizational
rewards. So, this leads me to our second possible intervention. So far, I've identified two biases that emerged in the evaluations of mothers. So, it seems logical to ask if common organizational
approaches to reducing gender bias might reduce the bias that mothers more specifically face. Gender biases in the workplace today are generally thought to be the result of an unconscious process
where gender stereotypes lead evaluators to rate women's performances lower than equivalent performances offered by men. So, it causes them to be seen as less competent if you will. And indeed,
there's some evidence that certain of these policies such as training about bias, holding decision makers accountable for their decisions and establishing clear criteria for hiring decisions do
reduce some of the gender biases in the evaluations of competence. So, would this work for mothers to the -- would this work for mothers? Could this overcome the motherhood penalty? There's not
specific research on this particular question that I'm aware of but it seems to be logical that this could possibly reduce some of the biased competence ratings that mothers experience. However,
overcoming bias competence ratings is not -- doesn't change the gendered norms about the sphere or domain where mothers' efforts should be directed in the first place. And secondly, the biases that
we find against mothers are often not very unconscious at all. This in fact seemed quite explicit, which leads me to be doubtful that these -- that this process -- that these -- that these
organizational policies are going to be able to do much to reduce the motherhood penalty. So, to summarize to this point, neither fixing mothers by imploring them to work harder nor fixing decision
makers by encouraging them to weed out their biases will eliminate the motherhood penalty. And this is because as I understand it, the problem is fundamentally not really with people in the
workplace. The problem lies in the norms that govern the workplace itself. I've just come to believe that there's a limit to how far we're going to get with gender equality by simply fixing women and
fixing decision makers. Instead eliminating the disadvantages that mothers and other caregivers face requires changing the norms that govern the workplace, and here I'm talking about this
ideal-worker norm and the gendered norms about caretaking and breadwinning. The question is how? And so I want to -- for intervention number three ask about the role of law and whether law could
function as a norm changer. And specifically, I want to ask whether family friendly laws can reduce the bias that mothers and other caregivers experience. Now, there -- I'm going to argue that this
-- that this -- I'm going to argue pretty positively for this but there are certainly reasons to be doubtful. So, I'll start there. First, these are very subtle biases that I've drawn out for you
that would be difficult to prove via the legal system. And secondly, under -- even if these things were illegal, under enforcement of employment discrimination has really rendered top-down regulation
largely ineffective or so people have argued. And finally, legal prohibitions face backlash when they attempt to change deep-seated normative beliefs like those about appropriate behaviors for
mothers and fathers. But yet I think there's reason to be hopeful. And here I draw on scholarship really from the 1960's from law and society scholars. And in this literature, law is argued to affect
society not only through punitive sanctions but also through its symbolic or expressive effects. The key idea here, that I'll come back to a few times, is that law implies a social consensus that a
particular conduct is wrong or not wrong and this implied consensus then, influences moral judgments and behaviors. One example they love to give in this literature is that individuals refrain from
murdering people they don't like, not only because people fear of being punished for murder but because we find murder to be morally reprehensible. More specifically, the idea is that law changes the
meaning of a behavior and with it, individual's moral evaluations of that behavior. So, if that's right, if law can change moral judgments and behaviors, then laws that prohibit discrimination
against people who take parental or family leave should reduce some of the biases that I've drawn out for you. I want to show some recent -- some evidence from a recent study that provides some
evidence to support this -- the role of law in reducing bias. And this is an experimental study where participants learned that a firm was covered by the US Family and Medical Leave Act or in a
controlled condition that a firm was -- the firm was governed by a law that had nothing to do with family leave. They then rated three employees who all worked for the same firm. Before sharing the
results, let me just say a little bit about the US Family and Medical Leave Act in case you're not familiar with it. This is a federal law that was passed in 1993. It provides 12 weeks of unpaid
leave each year for certain medical and family reasons. So, if you're not from the United States, this is probably shocking to you that this would be an unpaid leave as an entitlement. Employees are
eligible for this if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and in a location that employs 50 or more workers. So, this law does not cover large numbers of people and even if it
does, it's unpaid leave. But nonetheless, we wanted to see if this law could have enough -- this expressive effect and reduce the biases that mothers and caregivers experience. So, I'll start by
telling you what happened in the -- in the -- in the controlled condition here. With no law in place, women who took leave were judged to be less competent, less committed to their jobs, less
promotable and offered smaller raises compared to childless women. Leave-taking fathers were also disadvantaged, not on every measure but on some. For example, they were offered smaller raises than
childless men. Mothers who did not take leave, okay, so someone who was described as a mother but didn't take leave, they were seen as less warm and more hostile than childless women. And hostile
here is the selfish, dominating, devious kind of concept. By contrast, fathers who did not take leave, so here are your breadwinning dads, were seen as warmer and less hostile than childless men. So,
these last two bullet points if you put them together, what we see here is that raters made more positive normative judgments of mothers and fathers who conformed to gendered norms about prioritizing
work and family. So, what role did law play? Well, it made all the difference. In the condition where raters first read about Family and Medical Leave Act and told that the firm was covered by it,
all the biases that we found in the controlled condition were eliminated except for the fact that breadwinning fathers continued to be seen as warmer, but all of the other biases were eliminated. And
we suggest that this result means that even a limited law like the FMLA can reduce the motherhood penalty and argue that it does so by signaling a broad consensus about the right of men and women to
participate in both paid work and in care giving responsibilities. The last possible intervention is to ask whether a voluntary workplace policy might function just as effectively as law as a norm
changer. So, with workplace policies that allow people to take time off. Let's say, with the birth of a new child, you know, be able to reduce these biases. To answer this question, there was one
more condition in the study I just described to you, where a different set of raters rated the same employees but now the employees were described as working for a firm that had a family leave policy
that allowed new mothers and fathers time to be home with a new child. So, this is a reasonably common kind of policy you find in some workplaces in the United States. When this policy was made
salient, some of the biases that we found in the controlled condition were eliminated. So, it did reduce some of the biases but several remained. And a new bias emerged that had not even been found
in the controlled condition. That is now fathers who took leave were judged to be more interpersonally hostile than childless men. So, there was this pushback or backlash against fathers who took
leave. So, why would this be? Why was this -- why was this less effective than law? We argue that family friendly organizational policies, while helpful to workers in many ways, don't eliminate the
biases that mothers and caretakers experience because they don't change the norms that govern the workplace. Rather than representing a broad social consensus, these policies are instead more narrow
accommodations for individual workers who have specific needs at a specific time to take some time off from work. Erin Kelly has often referred to these as "Mother may I" policies. You go and ask the
employer if you could use them and on a one by one basis, they make a decision. As such, these policies leave the always there ideal-worker norm in place and if anything, boldly signal the perceived
lack of workplace commitment of those who actually use these policies. Indeed, recent research shows that those who take advantage of family friendly policies, such as taking family leave, working
reduced hours or even moderately changing their schedule, experience a so-called flexibility stigma. Further, these policies do not change the gendered norms about prioritizing work and family.
Instead, it is well-known that women are more likely than men to use these policies and as we saw a few slides back, employers actively dissuade men from doing so. So, in some, rather than changing
norms, these individual accommodation family policies instead potentially fuel both ideal-worker norms and gender norms by clearly signaling who is not an ideal worker and by gendering who takes
family leave. So, despite the limits that I've just drawn out to existing organizational policy, I do remain optimistic that organizations can reduce the biases that mothers and other caregivers
face. But what are needed are policies that are more deeply cultural, changing the norms that govern the workplace. Norms, as we all know, are widely shared beliefs. In the case of work and family,
they define who is a good and productive worker, and who should be spending significant time at work, and who should be spending significant time with family. If we simply accommodate the periodic
needs of individuals to spend time with family without changing these overarching norms, we tee up any employee whose workplace commitment is in doubt for discrimination. This includes all mothers --
all employed mothers and any father who demonstrates a commitment to care giving. And I say tee up in discrimination, I'm using this in the same way in golf. We use a tee to lift the ball up making
it easier to hit. I think some of the policies we have currently are simply lifting up certain employees making it easier for them to be discriminated against. To change these norms, we need to
redefine what it means to be a good and productive worker. This, of course, will not be easy. But to start, policies must first be designed around the principle that all workers have needs outside of
work. And second, policies must recognize that productive work can be accomplished outside of the traditional workday and outside of the physical workplace. That is norms about work time and
workplace must be shifted for all workers. I'll end with what I think is an encouraging example, and this comes from the work of Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen on the Results-Only Work Environment at
Best Buy Corporate Headquarters. So, ROWE there stands for Results-Only Work Environment. This is a policy Best Buy put in place. This sense resented but I'm going to talk about it as it existed when
they conducted the study. This program attempted to shift Best Buy's culture from one that highly valued face time to one where all employees were evaluated based on results only. It was really kind
of cool how they put this in place. Employees attended a pretty elaborate series of participatory sessions where they critic -- where they critically examined their current culture and practiced
moving towards a culture that reflect that valued results over face time. So, no longer was it permissible to ask why someone showed up at the office at 10:00 or why they weren't in the office at all
that day. And indeed, these were never encountered to the new norms that were being put in place. Because the program affected all employees, it signaled that all employees, not just mothers had
outside responsibilities. And in fact, what it did then is singles on our broad social consensus within the organization. An evaluation of this program found that it significantly reduced work-family
conflict and importantly, it did so without reducing employee productivity. It wasn't marketed as a work-family initiative and I think that was probably a really wise move. But the program has
obvious implications for workers with care giving responsibilities, and it's the sort of program that I think has the potential to promote deep cultural change that can decrease the disadvantages
faced by those with care giving responsibilities. So, I'll conclude with a prediction and that is here, to the extent that the motherhood penalty comes about because face time signals both the
commitment to work and to a masculine breadwinning role, a deep cultural change that reduces the value placed on face time can minimize the motherhood penalty. Thank you very much.
ANNETTE LAREAU: Good afternoon. Thank you for coming and thank you to Cecilia Ridgeway for organizing such a terrific meeting. Ten years after I knew him as a third grader in Lower Richmond School, I
interviewed Billy Annally, now a white working class young man, 20. He belonged to a union as a house painter but since there wasn't much work, he was mostly unemployed. He lived with his family, his
parents. And as I explained in the 2011 edition of Unequal Childhoods where I added a hundred pages for this update, I asked him in the course of the interview, I -- he talked about a buddy of his
who he said was, "Going nowhere." As they both spent many hours in the lunchroom where Billy Annally ultimately dropped out of from high school. But then his buddy moved and he moved to a suburb
about a 25-minute trip away. And he said -- he said, "I had a friend who grew up with me there and then moved up there. He's a whole different person now that he moved up there. He's going to
college. He dressed different. He's nicer than people who live around here." Billy was plain speaking in his assessment when I asked him if there was anything that he wished to had been different
about his childhood. He said, "I wish I lived in a different neighborhood, up there." where his buddy lived. He then added, "They seem like better people than us a little bit." I think they have a
lot more easier. They have a lot more easier in terms of life. So, Billy Annally thinks essentially where people grow up makes a difference, essentially independent of the class position of their
parents. And there are certainly debates about neighborhood effects. Many would agree that neighborhoods are consequential. But while we had many studies of the contours of neighborhoods and the
consequences of neighborhoods, we really have much more limited understanding our research question which is really at the quintessential intersection of structure and biography or in Cecilia
Ridgeway's program this year, the linking of micro and macro. How do people decide where to live and where do they turn to? What are the processes? How does it work? And here, I think we have
[inaudible] attention to the mechanisms. So, in my comments today, I want to share some work that Elliot Weininger and I have done in a number of different papers that will be -- that will be an
edited book next year. That's expected, Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools from Russell Sage Foundation. And so despite the dominant discourse today of charters and private schools, the reality is 70%
of American children attend their neighborhood catchments school. And so the decision about where to live, this really becomes a very important decision of a very key moment in the stratification
system. And to be sure, although Americans themselves have this fierce belief in the American dream and opportunities, and we have less of a language of social class, I think, than we do have a
language of race and gender in daily life of America. The evidence is very compelling that social class has a very important impact on many aspects of children's daily lives. From when they're four
years old, their parents read to them, how they talk to them, if they attend parent-teacher conferences, if they have rules about television. The way they handle high school selection of courses, the
way they manage college and countless ways through the life course. And in unequal childhoods are argued that we consider parents have a different logic of child rearing middle class parents as the
kids as a project in having an organized activities, language use, and institutions and this creates a sense of entitlement but working class kids, they're really trying to protect them from the
looming of adulthood where many problems are likely to be in children's lives and parents are trying to protect them from that. They play, they watch TV, they play with their cousins, they give them
directives and they depend on institutions to take care of them, which I call the accomplishment of natural growth. So, that led to this question then of -- since parent -- we see middle class
parents engaging in many very complicated negotiations over many aspects of children's lives, let's take this one moment in the life course where parents of young children decide where to live and
where to raise their children by a house, choose an apartment, move, and the factors that they consider in that process. And so to preview my argument today, to our surprise, we did not find evidence
that middle class parents provided and engaged in the sense of kind of parenting practices they do in other aspects of children's lives when they made a decision about where to live. Instead, the
structure of inequality was so profound in America that they turned to their networks and their networks guided them to highly stratified neighborhoods. And that the effort was very quick and in many
ways even nonchalant. So, the slide here provides a overview of the -- of the methodology and it's essentially an interview study and other raw observations in these different school districts. There
are 90 parents that we're going to talk about today. And if you think of the alphabet being stratified warren is at the bottom here in terms of the stratification system. These are all pseudonyms.
They're outside -- these are three suburbs outside of a large northeastern city. And here as our sample where we have upper middle class and a middle class sample, we have 90 families in the course.
And then we did other interviews as well with educators, real estate agents and we probably did over a hundred and fifty interviews but the key one here, I'm going to talk about parents, and these
kids -- these were parents with little kids, we started with kindergarteners and these parents -- these interviews weren't working that well. Parents weren't really able to talk that much, even these
people who had PhDs about this process. So, then we thought maybe their parents were -- the kids were too old, we turn to three-year olds and we found normally very articulated -- articulate people
were essentially tongue-tied and looked at us like we had three heads like everybody knows there are good schools, you can move to a good neighborhood. They were unable to articulate the processes in
key ways. But there's no doubt that the schools they -- and areas they moved to were stratified in the terms of the -- because we have in the US a highly locally base system of stratification for
financing of education which is highlighted, exacerbated in this particular state. The amount for people expenditure was dramatically different across the different school districts, SAT scores, free
lunch, et cetera. And the average home value but in fact, there's quite a lot of variability in the rents and the home values within the districts. And so -- and of course, even sociologists of
education are often at a loss to describe the characteristics of a good school independent of the children who attended, right? Most of the measures of "good schools" are test scores which you do not
control for any appearance characteristics. Okay. And so these parents were embedded in a social structure and these -- there were countless ways in terms of roads, highways, public transportation,
property taxes, zoning, many public policies which had an impact on the neighborhoods that they ended up living in. And these were the structures that were -- in which they -- which they live their
lives. And it would be foolish not to think that these had a difference including, of course, the FHA policy and many -- going back to the 40s, and redlining, residential segregation, et cetera. Bank
loans, credit, debt, the mortgage crisis, et cetera. And so it was in this context that parents were making these decisions and the queue, of course, most people think, well, it's just the price of
the house. But the problem with that view is that, as we'll show, parents only considered a few neighborhoods which were largely homogeneous. And you might think of yourself when you made a move, if
you bought a house or if you became a faculty member, you became a graduate student, how did you decide where to move? And often we're reporting that people told them, three neighborhoods which were
largely homogeneous. They were not diverse neighborhoods. They were not different kinds of neighborhoods. They were similar neighborhoods. Okay. So, our parents had mental maps. Mental maps, we
consider it an aspect of a set of dispositions, bourgeois idea of habitus. They were taken for granted dispositions part of a broader world view. And so it's almost -- I mean we were in an unusual
district, there were over -- unusual region, there were over 60 school districts within an hours drive, a city hall. These districts were only about comparable distance from city hall. You could get
there through public transportation as well as through the -- as well as through the highways, and yet, in people's mental maps, almost all of the region was grayed out and only a few districts came
into view. And so we interviewed Ms. Waters. Ms. Waters clearly engaged in what I call concerted cultivation as she scrutinized every aspect of her child's daily life. And so she -- they -- she is a
psychologist and they both have doctorates from a university, somewhat University of Nebraska. They were drawn to the area and they had children. She arranged play dates for her son. She volunteered
in the PTA. Her older son was in soccer. She monitored her first grader's development very closely as she said. She wanted to have fun activities which she wanted to help him with writing. She said,
"This is the one area where I feel he needs more practice, is fine motor skills." With gained even small advantages for her children, for example, her younger son was in daycare and he was the oldest
kid in the group and they requested to move him into a slightly more advanced group so he would be the youngest child in the group because they thought that that would be better for him develop
mentally. So, it's in this context of parenting that the selection of a school district was so much more casual and had a different ilk. And so as -- her knowledge was vague in general, she said,
"Well, we just felt like the schools districts were very good here." As they moved to Kingsley, the district has often widely cited as one of the best districts. We asked, "Well, how did you know the
neighborhoods were good?" "I mean, it's just talked about, it's in the newspaper. We didn't really look up any test scores or anything. We just moved here by reputation, by word of mouth. I just feel
like it's just -- maybe I'm assuming something about the schools. Some of my decisions are not like I've carefully researched." Other parents echoed this few -- echoed this few. We have the Peterson
family who were two scientists and again, monitored her son's education, had international travel but volunteered in the PTA. And they sought to give him all the advantages of life, and again, this
was sort of this big, "Well, we want..."--she said, "We wanted to be somewhere where the good schools -- public schools. We wanted some space. We wanted to minimize our commute. We looked very
halfheartedly in these other area but I can't -- I can't say my information with Madison County were better than Dewitt county." She said, "You know, I'm a scientist. I know how to check things out.
And the fact is I really didn't do it. But I do know that these were all pretty much very good schools." Right. So, this, "I'm a scientist." The way -- Peterson family had a different -- similar
approach to African-American middle class families who also relied on networks and assuredly said that the school is one of the best. We found a similar process in the suburban working class,
African-American, white families, they are people referred deeply to kinship groups and the importance of kinship group. Some of these people had actually gone to the schools as little kids that
their children were now attending. And again, they assured us that the schools were excellent and they were particularly proud that they were not in the city. These were parents who were living in a
school district that was demographically very similar to the city as in these inner-ring suburbs are in so many neighborhood -- in so many parts of the country. But to them, it was a point of pride
and they were certain that the schools were better in that district than they were in the city although the differences were, in terms of test scores, were limited. Okay. Okay. Now, the city process
was highly different. So, we had parents of similar social class positions, we had middle class parents who were living in the city and those parents were extremely anxious about the process. They
were far from nonchalant. Everybody denounced the city schools as being terrible schools. And it was interesting that the city parents who moved to the suburbs were given a pass, right? The
assumption is if you move to the suburbs, the schools were good in the suburbs, they were certainly better than the city schools. And so again, networks were crucial. And so we had -- again, from
family, friends, coworkers, people talked about it. Some of these -- and there was a scarce -- there were only four to six schools that were considered to be good schools by the middle class parents
in this -- in this area, in the city. And they were all trying to get into those schools and of course, there was an over supply of kids for those schools. So, we had people who applied to 14
different public schools and charters schools, they toured and they would hand letter -- written letters pleading with the principal and sometimes, they didn't make it. So, this middle class mother
said, "I've never been through anything so uncertain. I don't like it when I don't know what my future is going to be in someone else's hand. You don't have any control of this. You do all these work
and you don't have a chance in hell anyway. That's what my book should be, don't even bother, you don't have a chance. The end. It's like a huge nightmare that keeps you up awake at night." So, note
that these parents were angry that they said. "We're valuable. We're middle class parents. The city should be helping us. We need schools. They should be providing us schools." And they were angry
that the school -- the structure was not advantaging them in the way they thought. They couldn't--knew they couldn't move to the suburbs but they didn't want to live in the suburbs, they were
attached to the city for various ways. Now, working class parents also had this worry. And what was striking is that every single working class parent we interviewed told us that the charter schools
were better, that they wanted their kids in the charter school. And so the -- in the emerging status hierarchy, public schools have gone down even further now that charter schools have come up.
Though, of course, the research on charter schools is highly mixed. But most of them went to the neighborhood school and some of the parents expressed their desire for religious education which was,
you know, we have small numbers here but that was striking that that was a pattern. Again, it was word of mouth in the playground. Again, people assured us that their schools were excellent that the
kids went to. And even if they were a neighborhood that was very, you know, [inaudible] they would say, "Well, my block is a great block." "The teacher is great." And the Phi Delta Kappan survey in
2012 found that nationally only 19% of parents gave a school an A or B but when they were talking about their child's public school, their school, 77% gave an A or B. And so parents were generally --
it was important to them to be in -- to be in good schools. They were confident. The role of race was complicated in terms of the search process, the middle class African American and white families
followed a very similar process as with the working class families. They relied on networks, they talk to their coworkers. They talk to their friends. They talk to people at church. Where you saw the
role of race is that visibly in the interviews, the middle class African American families in particular, revealed deep anxiety and nervousness about the looming possibility of racial discrimination
that they feared their beloved children would encounter. And so, looking anxious sitting in their chairs, crying sometimes, they worried about teachers having low expectations, black boys being
treated harshly by educators, and feeling that they could not completely trust the school with their children's educational opportunities and does had to be more vigilant. White parents were -- had
the privilege of being spared these concerns. But in terms of the process, it was very similar. So what are we to make of this? In her theme, Cecilia Ridgeway calls upon us to collectively
interrogate the diverse range of inequality processes that characterize -- characterize contemporary societies. She adds, "We need to ask what are the mechanisms by with each of these types of
inequality are produced. In this study, Elliot Weininger and I have sought to do that -- exactly that. We're trying to unpack the mechanisms at a key moment in the reproduction of inequality. A
moment everybody thought children's public schools were important for little kids. Nobody said this is not an important decision. And we're interested in how it occurs and possibly how you would
disrupt it for policy. And in many ways our assumptions were disrupted. We found given the extensive research on social class and family life, we thought we would see class differences in the way in
which parents went about the search process. And our point is not to say whether or not parents made a good decision or a bad decision. Our point rather is to show the processes through which
stratification is continued or is disrupted. And so given the energy time and emotional anx, middle class and upper middle class parents put in some very minute aspects of parenting. One would have
thought that a highly consequential decision would have been given more effort, time, and energy on the part of advantage parents. But the reality is the stratified nature of American social life.
Suburban, upper middle class, middle class parents could be -- afford to be nonchalant about core aspects of the process because it was the structure of inequality that did the heavy lifting for
them. The middle -- the suburban middle class parents simply calmly asserted that their children were in great schools. And neighborhoods which were much more -- neighborhoods were more homogeneous
than they were heterogeneous on these dimensions. And it's not that race didn't matter but the general pattern was quick, very fast, often in a day or two they decided on a district and a
neighborhood. So we're left with a paradox. One might think that middle class and upper middle class parents end up in a school district because they worked harder at it, investigating information
intensively and actively develop children's life chances but our study doesn't support this conclusion. Similar to [inaudible] classic work, parents are embedded in different social worlds and then
other geographical options simply become inconceivable, they never -- they come up. So parent stratification is so deep and powerful that the mental options were heavily constrained and the
responsibility for this has to be not people's individual options but the structure of opportunities, housing policies, tax policies, school finance. But [inaudible] suggests people often think that
middle class people are better people and they think that they have -- middle class people think that they have earned the privileges that have accrued. So in my view, it is our job as sociologists
to try to highlight the work that advantaged people do to transmit advantages and then the ways in which they benefit from existing structures so much that a major life decision, they can afford to
be nonchalant." Thank you.
JANE D. MCLEOD: Okay. Well, thank you I'm honored and delighted to be here as well. I've been charged with discussing the microprocesses that operate across different types of inequalities so as to
offer more general analysis of the nature and significance of these processes and the production, reproduction and change of contemporary patterns of inequality. As was true for the other panelists,
I focus on categorical inequalities by race, class, genders, age, sexual orientation, immigrant status and the like. My comments are informed by chapters in the Handbook of the Social Psychology of
Inequality, my conversations with my coeditors, Michael Schwalbe and Ed Lawler, and my work with Tim Hallett and Kathryn Lively. I'm grateful to these many colleagues for sharing their wisdom even
though I won't have the opportunity to acknowledge them all individually today. So what do we mean by a microprocess? I use the term to refer to processes that sit at the intersection of person and
the social environment. In other words, processes that occur in interaction with others as people evaluate each other, take each other's feelings, thoughts and behaviors into account, influence each
other and act toward one another. The interactions in microprocesses can be real as when one person discriminates and -- or against another where they can be imagined as when one person considers how
others might evaluate her or his behavior. I situate microprocesses in relation to the social structure and personality framework within sociological social psychology. This framework provides one
approach to analyzing the association between macro social systems or processes and individual feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. According to this framework, macro social phenomena become
important to the lives of individual persons through their effects on the proximate environments that people inhabit. It's in those proximate environments through mundane and extraordinary small
group and dyadic interactions that macro social conditions come to life. Using more mechanistic language, the framework asserts that the effects of macro conditions are transmitted to individual
persons through the multiple intervening layers of social life, through the structure and content of interpersonal interactions within organizations and institutions communities, social networks,
small groups and dyads. Applied to inequality, this implies that the building blocks of inequality resources, power, and status are constructed and enacted in proximate context. It's in these
contexts that people confront the power and prestige orders of the larger social environment. It's here that opportunities are hoarded, people in groups are exploited, and challenges to inequality
are mounted. The study of microprocesses has historically been the purview of sociological social psychology. Indeed, I'd argue that what's the -- part of what defines sociological social psychology
is the subfield. But in recent years the study of microprocesses has also become active in microsociology which draws extensively on insights from symbolic interactions from the sociology of culture.
Both traditions remind us that the reproduction of inequality ultimately depends on what happens when people meet, negotiate meaning, and act towards one another. So what are the things that happen
when people meet that contribute to the production and reproduction of inequality and that allow for change? I don't actually think it's possible for me to discuss all the relevant processes in this
short time or even to develop a conceptualization that covers all of them today. Microprocesses are current a range of institutional and geographic contexts, workplaces, families, schools,
neighborhoods, public spaces, which shape the specific form the processes take. The specific processes also vary depending on the types of categorical inequalities of concern. So instead, I'm going
to focus on three generic processes that have received extensive attention from social psychologists and microsociologists. The term generic process comes from Michael Schwalbe and colleagues, and
refers to processes that transcend specific interactional settings. The generic processes, I'll discuss, are social categorization or the construction of difference, identity, and the maintenance of
boundaries and status and the enactment of difference. I selected these processes because they draw attention to three components of interpersonal interactions that are especially important to
inequality; the recognition of difference, the embracement of the associated identities, and the differential evaluation of persons and groups. Like levels of analysis, macro, meso, and micro, these
processes overlap and reinforce each other. They bridge the daily lives of persons and the ongoing lives of societies, making visible that they're mutually constitutive character. Important to the
understanding of inequality that can be studied with the reference to specific category memberships as well as experiences at set the intersection and they could -- they can be approached with a wide
range of theories and methods. So I'll take a few minutes to provide a brief description of each process after which I'll give very few examples of how the processes work, with special emphasis on
symbolic processes and face to face interaction. I'll then situate these processes within cultural belief systems and consider processes of socialization or, if you prefer, interpretive reproduction
to which they're perpetuated. I'll close by discussing what I see as the general contributions of the analysis of microprocesses to our understanding of inequality. So the most basic microprocess in
the production and reproduction of inequality is social categorization. Research and social cognition demonstrates that when we meet people, we immediately and unconsciously classify them according
to a few basic characteristics. In the contemporary United States, these include gender, race, and age. These classifications serve the purpose of reducing the cognitive demands of the interaction.
In essence, they provide us shorthand that reduces the amount of information we have to process. But social categories have purposes beyond cognitive efficiency. They also facilitate interaction by
helping us coordinate behavior. To coordinate behavior, we have to be able to anticipate the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of others, knowing which categories they belong to helps us do that.
Now, the category systems that serve as the basis for classification are a form of common knowledge and involve shared cultural beliefs about the members of the class. In the words of Peter Callero,
"What it means to be a man or woman, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor, is part of a common lexicon, a cultural toolkit." Placing people into category directs their attention to the
differences between us and them. Prime stereotypes associated with the categories and encourages differential evaluation. The resultant hierarchies emerge in automatic, unconscious, and unintentional
ways but have powerful material consequences. Although some category systems such as gender appear to service primary basis for categorization in almost all societies, other such as race emerge and
change in response to changing political economic and social conditions. The process of constructing difference is part of the work of maintaining inequality. This process occurs at the societal
level where it becomes institutionalized through social policies but we also perform and construct the categories and interaction by doing difference. Doing difference involves signifying membership
in social categories and expressing ourselves in a manner consistent with the expectations associated with those categories. Although there's room for negotiation and creative interpretation, we're
held accountable by widely shared cultural beliefs about appropriate feelings, attitudes and behaviors of persons in the categories to which we belong. Taking the example of gender, beliefs about
appropriate gender displays and expressions subject us to the risk of negative sanction if we fail to do gender appropriately. In turn, these displays and explicit behaviors reinforce that notion
that men and women are fundamentally different, an idea that can then be used to explain and justify gender inequality. The most powerful categorical distinctions are those that are constructed as
natural. Our interactional expressions of social categories contribute to that naturalization. As research on cultural capital illustrates, through repeated interactions, we acquire habits that allow
us to enact the categories in ways that feel, appear, and become real and natural. Our ways of being are taken for granted. They become part of how we engage the world without us even knowing it.
These basic categorization processes are reinforced by two related microprocesses that I've already hinted at; identity and status. These processes draw our attention to specific components of
difference that warrant analytical attention. Identities refer to the socially constructed categories that are used to establish meaningful understandings of persons, both ourselves and others.
Invoking the concept of identity complements the general discussion of social categories by highlighting the personal meanings and social connections that derive from categorical memberships.
Identities provide us with an understanding of who we are and how we relate to others. In essence, they give us a personal stake in the social categories to which we belong and heighten their
emotional salience. Identities have personal resonance as meaning systems that we bring into interaction with others. We seek confirmation of the established self use including categorical
identities, not only because we're held accountable by others but also because of our preference for self-consistency and coherence and a desire for authenticity. Expressing valued identity feels
right and generates positive emotions which in turn contribute to the reproduction of those categories. We can see this for example in research on identity work. Identity work refers to the processes
through each people signify identities and interaction. People strive to be seen as legitimate members of the social groups to which they belong by behaving in accordance with the expectations
associated with those identities. Upper middle class managers may cultivate an image as dedicated, trustworthy, and loyal among other qualities. Presenting themselves as having these characteristics
expresses a valued identity and legitimates their claim to that identity. In that example, identity work can be used to maintain privilege. However, identity work may also confirm stereotypes and
reinforce disadvantage. For example, working class men may emphasize masculine traits such as aggression and emotional invulnerability to legitimate their identities as men. Exaggerated masculinity
compensates for working man's exclusion for more socially valued ways of expressing masculinity such as economic success, but also validates established boundaries by highlighting the ways in which
they're different from middle and upper class men. Identity work can be used to transcend boundaries but as that previous example suggested, it may have paradoxical effects. Homeless men may present
themselves as resourceful free spirits to distance themselves from other homeless man who are lazy bums. People living in poverty may claim identities as victims of circumstance to avoid being judged
as undeserving. Although these strategies are intended to make claim to valued identities and may make individual subordination more tolerable, they also reinforce the basis of that subordination.
Beyond the personal meanings they provide, identities bring us into community with others. We work actively to draw symbolic boundaries to distinguish people like us for people like them.
Importantly, claiming an identity involves not just confirming our categorical memberships but repudiating the other. Boys reject femininity, some middle class blacks may reject behaviors associated
with lower class blacks. As research on race demonstrates the special force, group identities support the construction of competing interests and the inter-group conflict prejudice and discrimination
that follow. At the same time, collective identities can be used to challenge inequality. The definitions of and cultural meanings associated with the identities can be transformed. For example, by
redefining the meaning of queer, activists sought to construct a more inclusive social movement of people with a range of sexual identities. More generally, social movements depend on the
construction of collective identities that incorporate a sense of shared threat or fate. Identity work within social movement is potent tool for sustaining participation. [inaudible] interest in
social categories to consider identities, encourages analysis of how people construct and maintain the symbolic and social boundaries that distinguish us from them and how they negotiate and enact
the meanings of those identities as central components of the reproduction of inequality and of efforts to resist. The final set of processes I'll discuss are status processes. Processes through
which individuals, groups, or objects are ranked as superior or inferior according to a shared standard of social value. Status evaluations are expressions of more general cultural beliefs. They're
reinforced and reproduced through differences in the esteem, honor and respect and difference according to persons and groups and interaction. They become the basis for discrimination and exclusion
and they have profound implications for the self. Shared cultural beliefs about competence importantly shape performance expectations and thereby the opportunities that are available to participants
in task-oriented groups. High status actors set the agenda, talk more, and are more influential than low status actors. They thereby derive greater power in the interaction. Beliefs about competence,
commitment and the like shape the distribution of material rewards such as employment and high wages. So the status beliefs are less tangible than material arrangements. They nevertheless have
powerful material implications. More generally, the beliefs that we hold about categories of persons and their unequal social value are part of the cultural toolkit we bring to interaction. Normative
interaction rules based on these evaluations make action meaningful. We all recognize and enact to deference rituals. We know that we're expected to use honorific forms of address to greet a
superior. Behaving in this way signals respect, not behaving in this way signals disrespect and places us at risk of embarrassment, humiliation, rejection, or more formal sanction. Because most of us
would choose not to avoid -- not to incur a sanction, we tend present ourselves in ways that are consistent with our social value and to treat others accordingly. This makes the processes by which we
signify status and interaction inherently conservative. Status beliefs also support discrimination. When we believe that other people or groups are inferior, we feel justified in limiting their
social, political, and economic opportunities in withholding jobs or housing or loans. Perhaps most visibly in research on race but true for gender and class as well. Negative stereotypes of
subordinate groups strongly influence life chances through personal discrimination but also through discrimination that's been institutionalized in social policies. And finally, status beliefs become
incorporated into ourselves. Although the associations are not always strong, membership in devalued social categories diminishes self-esteem. More consistently, membership in devalued social
categories diminishes self-efficacy, our assessment of our own competence, control, and effectiveness. These self-evaluations impede efforts to move up in the status hierarchy by making people feel
that their low social status is justified and depriving them of essential personal skills of resistance. In some, status beliefs contribute to the production and reproduction of inequality by shaping
interpersonal interactions, justifying discrimination and damaging the self. Well, in order to focus on inequality as an interactional accomplishment, I de-contextualized these processes, pulled them
out of the social fabric in which they're embedded. So for just a minute, I want to re-contextualize them by emphasizing that each of these processes draws from and reinforces shared cultural beliefs
whether about the nature of difference, what certain kinds of people are like or their relative value. Ideologies or systems of thought that draw biological or cultural arguments can be used to
assert the naturalness of differences between men and women, members of different racial groups, heterosexuals, gay men and lesbians. Ideologies, values, and attitudes regarding women and motherhood
contribute to gender wage and equality. Racist ideology support discriminatory actions that produce racial inequalities. The processes that I've highlighted are interactional representations of those
belief systems that draw from and sustain them. I'd be remiss also if I didn't say something about socialization. A rich body of literature documents the processes through which adults, other
children, and the media socialize children into cultural belief systems which have become the basis for categorization identities and evaluations. Adults treat boys and girls differently, dress them
in different kinds of clothes and interpret their behaviors differently. Upper middle class parents coach their children to advocate for themselves and to believe in their own entitlement. Parents
may teach African American children to be restrained differential in nteraction with whites. Neither adults nor children passively accept direct messages about difference as theories of
interpretative reproduction emphasize. But beliefs about members of social categories nevertheless have power. What we learn about who we are, our place in the world, and how other see us and
interaction validates cultural belief systems. So although different in their specifics, these brought processes, your five common features that highlight key contributions of microprocesses to the
study of inequality. First, they draw our attention to the implicit nature of inequality. While inequality often arises and is reproduced through deliberate conscious oppressive action, it's also
supported by unconscious implicit processes. The production and reproduction of inequality depend on processes that exist outside of conscious awareness. Most of us do not wish to reproduce
inequality but we do it every day. The implicit nature of inequality processes helps us understand how people in disadvantaged positions can inadvertently contribute to their own subordination. We
experience social rewards for playing our part and risk social sanction if we resist. Identity work makes subordination more tolerable and may thereby discourage descent. Indeed, subordinated groups
may feel validation by embracing their devalued identities, accepting stigma, and internalizing negative stereotypes. To the extent that must people must come to see inequalities as unjust before
they seek redress, these processes diminish resistance. Second, these processes emphasize the centrality of meaning. Meaning is not inherent in objects, persons or situations, rather meanings are
constructed by social actors engaged in interaction. Because meanings are socially constructed, they're subject to change as political and economic conditions change and as groups and individuals
negotiate for relative advantage. This implies that social categories, identities, and the status order must be reaffirmed continually through the construction of difference and supporting
ideologies. This happens at the societal level through historical processes that justify differences with reference to resource and equalities and ideologies of superiority and inferiority. But
differences are also signified and made meaningful in interaction. Importantly, inequality also operates through self meanings as well as the meanings described by others. Through processes of
interaction based meaning construction, identities in selves are constituted in ways that reproduce social structures. Third, these processes illustrate the structuring of human agency. People
actively participate in the creation and reproduction of inequality but they do not do so under conditions of their own choosing. These conditions shape the values, attitudes, beliefs,
self-conceptions and feelings that form the basis for how people create experience and reproduce inequalities. However, social structures are not merely constraining, they also provide us with the
tools, language, practices, and material resources that make effective social action possible. In other words, social hierarchies and cultural ideologies channel human agency. The study of
microprocesses shows us how the shaping of human agencies occurs by drawing your attention to how people make sense of their worlds and act efficaciously in the phase of constraint. Fourth, although
microprocesses are visible in interpersonal interactions, they cut across levels. In mainstream sociological parlance, categorization, identity, and status processes link macro, meso, and micro
levels of analysis. This is true in a strict social structure and personality kind of sense. They come between macrostructures and micro experiences. This is also true in a sense that each process
can be represented and analyzed at each of these levels. Social categories and identities can be studied as socio-historical phenomena, as interactive accomplishments and as personal experiences. And
this is true in that microprocesses are built into the practices of institutions. In these ways, microprocesses connect structural and cultural systems, local context in the lives of individual
persons. Finally, microprocesses offer insight into the everyday interactions through which equality is in -- is produced, reproduced, and resisted. They remind us that inequality is a mundane
accomplishment, a product of our everyday efforts to make sense of the world and gauge effectively with others. In closing, sociologists have documented the profound material consequences of
membership in social categories in elegant detail. What studies of microprocesses add is an understanding of how inequality is accomplished and under what conditions, how categories are created and
maintained, how they become imbued with meaning, how they influence social interactions. By virtue of these characteristics research on the microprocesses of inequality provides us with an
opportunity to reach across intellectual divides. The processes I've described have received attention from scholars across the three phases of social psychology from symbolic interactionism, group
processes research, social structure and personality and for micro sociologists. It bridges the work of more macro-oriented sociologists with the work of more micro-oriented sociologists. By focusing
on our common interest in categories, identity, and status, sociologists from many different traditions can work collectively to identify a comprehensive and compelling account of inequality. And a
truly satisfying account will be grounded not just in material arrangements, not just in conscious act and not just an overt conflict but in the subtle, insidious processes through which actors work
together to construct a stratified world. Thank you.
CECILIA L. RIDGEWAY: Somehow, good things take time. We don't have buckets of time here. But if we could have -- we just have about five minutes but if somebody has one or two questions and remember,
keep it short, go to the mike. Can you go to the mike? Go to the mike. So would you please ask your question straightforwardly and over there?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, hi. My name is Tanya Nieri from UC Riverside. Thanks so much for your presentations. As a mother, I was particularly keen on the presentation about the motherhood bias and while
it's helpful, your findings about the possibility of law for changing norms and then subsequently reducing the motherhood bias, I wonder to what extent you feel that the promise of law extends to the
possibility of reducing other forms of bias. So, for example, I was thinking about Dr. Bobo's work about attitudes and how we have quite a bit of flaw about racial discrimination and yet we have a
lot of norms that seem to, you know, continue to reinforce discriminatory behavior and subsequently inequalities.
CECILIA L. RIDGEWAY: Each go -- you too, you will go? Yeah, we start Shelly and...
SHELLEY CORRELL: Yeah, it's a -- it's a -- that's a great question and perhaps Larry might be able to say more about that. But, you know, the argument about the role of law is, you know, really hinges
on the extent to which law represents a broad social consensus. With a lot of laws that have to do with racial discrimination, I think that hasn't in fact been the case, that there's been a lot of --
a sense that those laws have been imposed on people. That's the case with law, that's when we see these sort of backlash reactions. And I think that's what happened a lot with affirmative action type
laws for example. So there has to be, prior to a law, I think something more done to create a sense of social -- enough social consensus to get the law enacted and then I think the law can broaden
that consensus.
CECILIA L. RIDGEWAY: Just a brief observation to add to that, one of the things that might make that consensus in the particular examples that Shelley talked about, easier to gather together, is it
talked about work-family balance. It didn't talk about making women being equal to men. It didn't challenge that hierarchy. It's a work-family balance. Well, everybody wants work-family balance,
right? So it becomes this other kind of -- kind of thing. It's not such a hierarchy challenge as [inaudible]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I am a sociologist from India. I have two questions to the first speaker. The first is whether affirmative actions of the state has reduced inequality in America both ethnic
inequality and class inequality. This is my first question. The second question is whether social mobilization and social movements have provided an answer to reduce social inequality.
LAWRENCE D. BOBO: The short answer to both questions is yes and yes. But let me be more serious and long-winded about it. The affirmative action tale is obviously a long and complicated one and I
think with respect to race, the success of affirmative action either in institutions of higher education or in the workplace was probably greater in the past than it is at the current moment. But
there's no doubt it contributed to helping to reduce discrimination on the one hand and to open and broaden doors on the other particularly for African Americans. And it's part of what's worrying
about a current context in which the legal and public policy supports for continuing affirmative action are steadily eroded and weakened opening the door again to these more subtle often implicit or
unconscious forms of bias kind of renewing their force and effect. Quickly on the social movements point, they're obviously enormously important. We should all thank God that Martin Luther King did
not do a public opinion poll before he decided whether or not to take part in the civil rights movement because if he had, I assure you, there would've been no Montgomery Bus boycott, no Selma
protest and we would have not created the changes that we did. Sometimes we have to risk isolation, really go against the overwhelming tide of opinion in order to in effect force to light an
otherwise very much normalized injustice. And then you can contend over creating a new consensus and battling for the establishment of a new set of norms and a set of legal structures. The last
general bridging comment I'll make is just that the striking thing about many of the comments we've all made is actually, in many ways, the power of the micro. And the quick example I love to give is
of Thurgood Marshall who on May 17th, 1954 walked out of a United States Supreme Court building and declared, having just received a 9-0 unanimous Supreme Court ruling, declaring segregation
unconstitutional. He said "There'll be no segregated schools in America in five years." Now, if you were a strong institutional sociologist, logically, that should make sense. We've just had an
authoritative ruling, right, that said, "We're going to change the way the society is structured. It legally is now changed." But in point of fact, there were a whole lot of individuals out there
whose both living arrangements and cultural orientation suggest, wait one minute. It's going to be a long, slow, troubled contentious sometimes violent, disruptive and only partially successful road
to this end 50 years later. All right? So that's part of the point of how the microprocess ends up mattering in the phase of huge institutional transformation.
CECILIA L. RIDGEWAY: I'm afraid we're out of time. This has been a fabulous session. Can we please thank our wonderful speakers?