Understanding Class Differences in Black Adolescents' Attachment to Racial Identity


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  • Speaker: Karyn Lacy, Associate Professor of Sociology and African Studies, University of Michigan
  • Host Department: Psychology
  • Date: 12/09/2013
  • Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

  • Location: 4464A East Hall

  • Description:


    Understanding Class Differences in Black Adolescents' Attachment to Racial Identity


    Studies assessing the impact of social class in the everyday lives of families show that working-class and middle-class parents differ in terms of the norms and values they seek to help children internalize. However, in their explicit attention to class, many scholars downplay the role of race in the daily lives of families. Another line of research suggests parents differ by race in terms of certain values and norms they impart to children. Proponents of this view argue black parents emphasize knowledge of black culture in conjunction with the importance of learning strategies to cope with racial discrimination in mainstream society, a process known as racial socialization. There is good reason to believe that the racial socialization practices of black parents may vary not only across social classes, but also within the black middle class, a phenomenon both class socialization and race socialization scholars neglect. This paper assesses whether merging the class and race socialization literatures provides new insight into the relationship between parental socialization and black youths' attachment to black racial identity. We find that there are both inter-class and intra-class differences in black parents' socialization practices. We also find that children's peer groups have a more significant impact than parental socialization beliefs and practices on one of our measure of black children's identity. The findings raise interesting questions about which mechanisms help children to adopt a positive black racial identity.



    Karyn Lacy is Associate professor of Sociology and African American Studies at the University of Michigan. She is a Ford Fellow, and was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. Her book Blue-Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class (University of California Press) received the Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Lacy’s current work explores the construction and reproduction of racial and class-based identities among members of an elite social organization.

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