Spring 2023

Unequal Childhoods

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-265  |  Anthropology and Sociology, as SOCI-265  |  Education Studies, as EDST-265

Moodle site: Course


Leah C. Schmalzbauer (Section 01)


(Offered as SOCI 265 and AMST 265) This course explores the ways in which race, class, gender and immigration status shape children’s lives. We begin by conceptualizing childhood as a social construct whose meaning has changed over time and that varies across context; for class privileged individuals, for example, childhood or adolescence may extend into the third decade of life, whereas for “others,” poverty and/or family responsibilities and community struggles may mean it scarcely exists at all. The bulk of the course draws from ethnographic scholarship focused on the relationship between childhood and inequality in key institutional contexts including school, family and the legal system. Through ethnography, we will critically examine the ways in which inequalities among and between groups of children shape their daily life experiences, aspirations and opportunities, and what this means for overall trends of inequality in the United States.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Schmalzbauer.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority given to sociology and American studies majors, then first and second year students

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Intensive academic and reflective writing, regular small group discussions/work, reading and interpreting interdisciplinary texts, critical engagement with issues of power, inequality and identity.


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019