Social mobility

Annette Lareau disusses child-raising in her book, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life (2003). She describes two different ways to raise children: concerted cultivation and natural growth:[citation needed]

  1. Concerted cultivation, normally used by middle-class families, incorporates scheduling many structured, organized activities for the child. Such children learn to use their language to reason with parents and other adults, and they often adopt a sense of entitlement.
  2. Natural growth is almost the exact opposite of concerted cultivation. Occurring mainly in poor or working-class families, this style of childrearing does not include organized activities, and there is a clear division between the adult and the child. Children usually spend large amounts of their day creating their own activities, and they hardly ever speak with adults. In fact, adults use language in order to direct or order the children, never to negotiate with them.

These two different types of childrearing can affect inter-generational mobility. Children who grow up with a concerted cultivation style of childrearing learn from their parents how to talk with adults as equals and negotiate to get favorable outcomes in any situation. This skill helps them create powerful social networks, which can improve their social standing. Children with natural growth accomplishment tend to have a more difficult time improving their social standing. They lack the social skills and sense of entitlement that children raised with the concerted cultivation method have, and therefore are less likely to acquire good jobs (and therefore, improve their social standing). Children who have been raised with natural growth do learn to comply with authority figures, instead of arguing with them, which gives them an advantage over concerted cultivated children in certain fields of employment. However, those are generally the entry-level fields (which pay people to follow orders and not to think) and are therefore the lower-paying ones. The middle-class, on the other hand, concertedly cultivates children’s reasoning skills, which aids them in attaining the higher-paying, higher-prestige white-collar jobs.[citation needed]

Absolute and Relative Mobility


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