Family Dynamics

From Dissertation in Progress
Jump to: navigation, search

American Family and Class Dynamics

Scholars have study how social class, socioeconomic status, and class positioning influence family dynamics and parenting styles, including how their approaches to media use, media at home, consumption, and placement; as well as their approaches to schooling and their school-home relationships.

Lareu (2003)

  • ethnography on schools and homes. Focuses on relationships home-schools, and education.
  • two parenting styles, concerted cultivation and the accomplishment of natural growth.
  • division of the classes in America: into middle and working or poor. Only two classes. Two distinct socio-cultural groups.
  • Socio-cultural: family income and assets, as well as parenting styles, how they view and carry responsibilities. Reflects parents education, occupation, and aspirations for children.
  • divides American families into social classes not by income solely, but by income in combination with the educational level and occupation of the parents, as well as by where and how the families live.
  • parental education and occupation as much as income in identifying a family’s class. Educational competence
  • “cultural capital” is accumulated and passed on within families: The bourgeois
  • consider the educational level of the parents, their occupation, their assets.
  • cultural capital: set of attitudes, values and expectations that children absorb in childhood and carry with them into adulthood.
  • assets or resources: investment on children: time, money, media.
  • Transmission of differential advantages to children: dominant set of cultural repertoires.
  • two types of child rearing, “concerted cultivation” or “the accomplishment of natural growth.”
  • working class parenting style: it is assumed that schools and teachers are there to educate children, with minimal input from parents. little participation of parents. Are expected to grow up naturally, without the constant monitoring and periodic intervention of parents. Working class children are sent out into the world without much mentorship. Emphasizes informality. Hands-off approach: kids will develop naturally as they navigate the world. Give children autonomy, value respect for authority, let their children navigate their own relationships with peers and other worlds.
  • middle class parenting style: hectic, obligations of homework, extracurricular activities (sports, music, theater and church). Structured activities. Calendar. Management of time. Guidance and enriching experiences. Belief that parents responsibility involves developing their children through extracurricular activities.

  • Middle-class children learn a sense of “entitlement.” (104-105)

"Middle-class parents who comply with current professional standards and engage in a pattern of concerted cultivation deliberately try to stimulate their children’s development and foster their cognitive and social skills. … For working-class and poor families, sustaining children’s natural growth is viewed as an accomplishment." (5)

“these different philosophies and approaches to child rearing … appear to lead to the transmission of differential advantages to children (5).”

"sense of entitlement characteristic of the middle class. They acted as though they had a right to pursue their own individual preferences and to actively manage interactions in institutional settings…. The working class and poor children, by contrast, showed an emerging sense of constraint in their interactions in institutional settings. They were less likely to try to customize interactions to suit their own preferences." (6)

Seiter (1993)

  • studies parenting styles and children's media culture. Class, aspiration, and education.
  • study of children's television programming and commercials, magazine toy ads, toys, and toy stores,
  • children media and family life in the U.S.
  • values and attitudes toward particular forms of media consumption and participation: relationships between kids, parents and media industries.
  • middle class and working class parenting styles regarding media uses: values through toys and media that children should use, play, consume.
  • parenting styles in consumer culture.
  • watching Saturday cartoons isn't a passive activity but a tool by which even the very young decode and learn about their culture, and develop creative imagination as well
  • sexist and racist view of the world that children's TV presents
  • discusses of toy-based television programs and of class biases with respect to toys and media.
  • histories of toy advertising and parenting.
  • consumer culture provides images and themes for a shared culture among children. Children could create new, unanticipated meanings, even to rebel against parental culture.
  • "buying and using commodities as the means to a solution, rather than real social change" (134)

Seiter (2008)

  • "Privileged role of early domestic learning in gaining the "right" skills, the kind of competence that seems to come naturally and is therefore of higher status than what is learned at an institution such as public school. (29)
  • Bourgeois furniture: the piano and its onderful effects on a childes life at home. Commercial messages. Stenway advertisements.
  • "enthusiasm for how mere association with computers will lift children intellectually and magically increase their potential value as adults." 29
  • "underestimation of specific forms of cultural capital required to maintain the systems themselves and move beyond the casual, recreational uses of computers to those that might lead directly to well-paid employment." 29
  • miraculous benefits of digital learning: expected to overcome entrenched educational inequalities.
  • obstacles to ownership related to family income. Copmuter, peripherals, software. etting up and maintaining software. Updates.
  • "Procuring the device itslef is the smalles -an in many ways the easiest- part of access provison, keeping up with the accelerating rate of planned obsolecence of computer products" 31
  • larger families: fighting over the machine.
  • "Privacy on which much youth-oriented play with computers relies is harder to come by when there are fewer roooms and more people in them. " 31
  • Computer as a medium that is not as easy to share, as other media such as tv, game consoles, dvd players.
  • Old computers are frustrating."Kids of all classes recognize an old computer when they see one. 31
  • Planned obsolescence is the guidign principle of the new tech industries. Costs of constant upgrading is challenging for working class families.
  • Disparities in income and home ownership follow racial lines.
  • "New media was introduced into a world where the gap between the middle-class and poort families was very wide in terms of income and access to educational opportunity and sadly, new technology has exacerbated these gaps in the everyday lives of children." (31-32)
  • Certain activities require newest machines: certain games, new software, video editing... Multimedia authorship: video, audio, gaming application.
  • "IF you want to develop digital literacy skills that are robust and confident, continually updated equipment is requred." 32
  • "multimedia creation is highly inaccessible to the masses" 32
  • hardware, software and bandwith necessary to create the newest forms of multimedia will always be more expensive. 32
  • "working-class children have little chance of enjoying the kind of computer and internet access that is residential and high speed, the kind that facilitates music downloading, online gaming and instant messaging." 32.
  • necessity for children for having a computer.
  • Smart technologies will not be targeted at households where English is not the first language.
  • Downscale markets: left to the mass marketers of toys and junk food and popular music. On the Internet: dispariety across class lines: quality and quantity of access: differences between mass market for the poor and premium content for the rich: cutting-edge hardware, educational software, online courses.
  • Cultural capital: knowledge, tastes, preferences: totality of individual learning, both formal and informal. Social circumstances. Patterns of cultural consumption and expression.
  • Learning is time consuming: practicing. Early age advantage.
  • association of youth with digital media.
  • "Digital media culture... appeal to kids as new and cutting-edge, and promise an appealing shortcut to success that bypasses traditional academic and cultural hierarchies. This lack of certainty of what is worthwhile is endemic in the digital realm because of tis relative newness. " 35
  • "Interest in gaming is not sufficient to either enable broader academic success or learn ho to program. (...) some skills -however indicative of intelligence and mastery- never convert into economic gain at a predicatble rate." 35 Arbitrariness of systems of distinction.
  • "educational benefits do not flow automatically from internet access." 36
  • Web browsing : wandered off-topic.
  • importance of reading skills": internet requires higher levels of reading skills than textbooks. 36
  • the advantage of domestic access
  • digital literacy has an origin in the middle-class home. Bourgeois relation to knowledge of music and art. More familiar relationships to the arts, where they are also performed.
  • learning programming and how to write software are advanced skills.
  • Networking online requires as a basis the capacity to know othere with at least the minimal amounts of economic and cultural capital necessary to participate in digital communications. 39
  • Operation of social distinctions. Status distinctions.
  • Social class, ethnicity, and language interact with gender expectations in determining who likes to use computers. 41
  • interrogating the persistance of the home technology divide.

Alters (2004)

  • shift in American parenting style during the last 40 years: parents are uneasy about how to raise children in light of societal changes, dangers, etc. This is pretty much middle class family.
  • "reflexive parenting" : parents feel aware and accountable to themselves and the society at large regarding decisions they make in domestic sphere.
  • sense of responsibilitiy.
  • rules as part of the family project of building a family identity.

Horst (2010)

  • Parents motivations and belies about parenting, as well as personal histories and interest in media: are reflected in parents attitudes toward new media.
  • New media becomes meaningful to many families: "represent an investment in their child's future, one that they hope will ensure their children success in education, work, and income generation." (150)
  • Parents could use new media as motivators and rewards.
  • examines parenting strategies surrounding new media and the structuring and regulation of family life in the home and through new media.
  • parents and young people transform, negotiatie, and create a sense of family identity through new media. (151)
  • " Home and family environments reflect the values, morals, and aspirations of families as well as beliefs about the importance and effects of new media for learning and communication." (151)
  • approaches to managing new media at home are shaped by class. Parenting styles of Larau also apply to how new media is at home.
  • examines how "different discourses and parental approaches become embedded in the strategies parents employ to regulate and maintain control over media and media uses among the family." (154)
  • Public and private media spaces at home: Size of the home, family members. Structure time and schedule.
    • Public: family computer rooms : communal media use
    • Private: bedrooms: individual media use: More solitary , more peer-oriented, more "media-rich" more individualized practices in bedroom (Livingstone and Bovill 2001)
  • Media Time: temporal rhythms of the family and the household: intertwined with the organization of domestic space.
    • spending time together: gaming as site of family togetherness. Shared interest in an activity. Watching television. making new media. Brokerism and translation work. Computer can mediates across generation. Computer and itnernet tasks. AS a way to make family together. Helping out in the computer.
    • transnational families: various forms of media sharing, online conversationala media, video conferencing. Transnational digital communication.
    • leverage new media in everyday life interactions.
  • Routines and rhythms (structuring media time: rules. Monitoring and regulating youth media engagement)
    • disruptions to school and family life: regulation, rules: parents setting up times of new media use.
    • external controls: software.
    • mothers tend to be the one who maintains temporal rhythms of the household
  • Growing up children: judgement. Allowing teenagers to exercise judgement: letting them choose games, giving them a mobile phone.
    • mobile smart phone: coordinate activities, rides home. Safety.
    • punishment: restictions on media use
  • going online at home: parents anxieties about distractions, uses of the web.
    • working class parents and low-income: educational pursuits of the computer and the internet. Homework.


Alters (2004) The family in US history and culture. In Media, home, and family / Stewart M. Hoover, Lynn Schofield Clark, and Diane F. Alters with Joseph G. Champ and Lee Hood. New York : Routledge.

Alters and Schofield Clark (2004) Introduction. In Media, home, and family.

Lareu (2003) Unequal childhoods : class, race, and family life. Berkeley : University of California Press.

Lareau (1989) Home advantage : social class and parental intervention in elementary education. New York: Falmer Press.

Seiter (2008) Practicing at Home: Computers, Pianos, and Cutlural Capital.

Seiter (1993) Sold separately : children and parents in consumer culture. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press