Competent parents, complex lives: Managing Parenthood in Poverty

Katherine Brown Rosier, William A. Corsaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


This study builds on earlier ethnography of friendship processes among children attending a Head Start program in a large city in the Midwest. Here, through intensive interviews and ethnographic observations of a small sample of the Head Start children's families, the researchers examine the values and concerns of lower-class Black mothers regarding their children's education. Earlier studies have shown that Black parents of all income levels place great value on education and have high expectations for their children's academic careers. The present research goes beyond these studies by directly addressing the strategies that parents employ in acting on these values. The article describes an impressive array of strategies that the study's respondents use to encourage their children's academic achievement and to promote the development of values that will keep them enthusiastic about schooling. The theoretical implications of the findings are then addressed. In particular, the discussion highlights the need for an extension of Kohn's well-known arguments concerning the relationship between social class and conformity. Finally, the researchers stress that longitudinal ethnography is a crucial method for developing theoretical understandings of family socialization processes and children's educational experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-204
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1993


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