Class Reproduction by Four Year Olds
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While scholars know that young children are active if inadvertent participants in social reproduction, little has been said about how young children engage in class reproduction. Through observing in a preschool classroom with a class diverse student body, I show that preschoolers are already class actors, performing class through their linguistic styles. Upper-middle-class children speak, interrupt, ask for help, and argue more often than working-class children. Upper-middle-class children’s classed linguistic style effectively silences working-class students, gives them less power, and allows them fewer opportunities to develop their language skills. The children’s linguistic class performances have immediate consequences and potential future implications for class reproduction.
KeywordsSocial class Education Social reproduction
I would like to thank the following people for their support and advice with this paper: Al Young, Fred Wherry, Karin Martin, Karyn Lacy, Amy Cooter, Alexandra Killewald, Anju Paul, Jane Rochmes, Jessica Wiederspan, the members of the Culture, History, and Politics workshop, and the anonymous reviewers. Thanks, too, to Lynn Sametz for her many rounds of edits. Also, thank you to the Community Preschool teachers, staff, students, and parents for allowing me to conduct this research.
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