Location: Bowdoin / Coastal Studies Center / Symposia & Events / The New Politics of Parenthood / Family and the Reproduction of Class

Coastal Studies Center

June Carbone, Family and the Reproduction of Class

Keynote Address
Thursday, April 5 7:30 pm
Main Loumge, Moulton Union

Family scholars are providing irrefutable data that the tendency to marry, stay married, and raise children within two parent families has emerged as a potent marker of class, and that the results reinforce class barriers and dramatically affect America’s human capital acquisition.  The idea of “class” refers to categories of social construction more fluid than race, ethnicity, or caste and more fixed than occupation, religion, or party.  Class, in contrast with other categories, is a product of the allocation of resources, an allocation that depends on the organization of the family to channel investment in children. This talk will accordingly examine the social construction of class through the lens of gender and family. In doing so, it will examine the growing economic inequality that has rejuvenated interest in the idea of class and the relationship between the changing economy, gender, divorce and non-marital births.  It concludes that an important factor in the relationship between class and family is the role of greater inequality in segmenting marriage markets, skewing the gender gap in wages as a function of class, writing off large numbers of men as effectively “unmarriageable” because of incarceration, chronic unemployment, substance abuse and violence, and the consequent altering of gender ratios to the disadvantage of all but the most elite women.

June Carbone is the Edward A. Smith/Missouri Chair of Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City and co-author of Red Families v Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture (Oxford 2010).