Open Access
Bodovski, Katerina
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 01, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Marion Kathryn Hood, Committee Member
  • Suet Ling Pong, Committee Member
  • Paul Amato, Committee Member
  • George Farkas, Committee Chair
  • concerted cultivation
  • early schooling
  • inequality
  • school achievement
I propose a comprehensive model for the reproduction of social class inequality among elementary school children, and estimate it using ECLS-K data for a nationally representative sample of American first graders. This model quantitatively tests Lareau’s (2003) theory of the role played by parental concerted cultivation as a mediator of the positive effect of parental SES on children’s school achievement. I examine the determinants and the consequences of concerted cultivation among white and African American students. I measure concerted cultivation using a scale of 21 items covering the following topics: parents’ perceptions of their responsibilities towards their child, leisure-time activities scheduled for the child, relationships with the child’s school, and learning-related resources available in the home. I also include measures of parental educational expectations, student behaviors, and socio-demographic control variables. I employ two distinct measures of achievement – reading test scores, and the teacher’s judgment of the student’s language and literacy skills. In support of Lareau’s theory, I found that parental SES is positively and strongly associated with concerted cultivation for both African American and white students. All three SES dimensions (parental education, occupation and family income) exert significant positive effects on all outcomes, with parental education showing the strongest effect. Further, concerted cultivation positively contributes to learning-related behavior among white and African American students, which is one of the most important predictors of achievement. In addition, African American students benefit more than white students from concerted cultivation when the outcome is the teacher’s judgment of their language and literacy skills. However, my findings contradict Lareau’s argument that concerted cultivation is associated with social class, but not with race. Although social class explains about two thirds of the relationship between race and concerted cultivation, even after controlling for social class, African American parents are less engaged in the process of concerted cultivation of their children than white parents. I present possible explanations for this finding, using both Bourdieu’s cultural capital theory and ethnographic studies of African American communities (Carter, 2005; Patillo-McCoy, 1999).