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African American Family and Parenting Strategies in Impoverished Neighborhoods

Abstract

This article considers how qualitative insights can inform quantitatively-derived neighborhood effects theories. Neighborhood effects theories argue that inner-city areas lack social and economic resources that promote the social mobility prospects of African American children. Consequently, children who grow up in impoverished neighborhoods are at risk for dropping out of school, bearing children prematurely, and engaging in delinquent activities. Qualitative studies, however, identify family and parenting strategies that buffer children from the risks associated with inner-city residence. When these practices are used, children are more likely to complete high school, forego premature childbearing, and participate in prosocial activities. Insights from qualitative studies expand on neighborhood effects theories by identifying variations in child social mobility prospects and the processes by which conventional outcomes are achieved. More specifically, qualitative studies focus attention on important factors that permit children to succeed, despite social and economic obstacles.

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Correspondence to Robin L. Jarrett.

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Jarrett, R.L. African American Family and Parenting Strategies in Impoverished Neighborhoods. Qualitative Sociology 20, 275–288 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024717803273

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  • African American families
  • African American children
  • qualitative research
  • urban poverty
  • underclass
  • urban ethnography