Research News

Posey-Maddox probes middle-class parents’ collective engagement in city public schooling

December 29, 2014

UW-Madison’s Linn Posey-Maddox is the lead author of a paper that was recently published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education.

The paper is titled, “Seeking a ‘critical mass’: middle-class parents’ collective engagement in city public schooling.”

Linn Posey-Maddox
The paper’s abstract notes that “a growing body of literature has begun to explore the individual identities, motivations, and school choices of middle-class, typically white, parents who choose to reside in socioeconomically and racially mixed central city neighborhoods. Drawing on qualitative research in three U.S. cities, we argue that a focus on middle-class parents’ collective engagement in schooling is particularly important in under-resourced urban contexts.”

It continues: “In these environments, we show, middle-class parents’ use of social networks often extends beyond basic information-sharing about school quality to encompass a range of activities undertaken with other families ‘like them’ who have also chosen to enroll their children in an urban public school. We find that, in some instances, middle-class parents’ collective actions can benefit an entire class or school. Yet in other instances, their activation of social capital can contribute to processes of social reproduction in urban schooling by excluding or marginalizing low-income students and their families.”

For a more nuanced examination of this complex topic, make sure and check out the entire article for free on the British Journal of Sociology of Education website.

Posey-Maddox is an assistant professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies.

The paper’s co-authors include Shelley McDonough Kimelberg of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University, and Maia Cucchiara of the Department of Teaching and Learning at Temple University.