Jessica McCrory Calarco. 2018. Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School. Oxford (also available in ebook)



Amy L. Gonzales, Jessica McCrory Calarco, and Teresa K. Lynch. Forthcoming. "Technology Problems and Student Achievement Gaps: A Validation and Extension of the Technology Maintenance Construct," Communication Research. Accepted Version.

Brea Perry and Jessica McCrory Calarco. 2017. "Let Them Eat Cake: Socioeconomic Status and Caregiver Indulgence of Children's Food and Drink Requests," in Sara Shostak, ed., Food Systems and Health (Advances in Medical Sociology), vol. 18. p. 121-146. Emerald Publishing.

Jessica McCrory Calarco. 2014. "Coached for the Classroom: Parents' Cultural Transmission and Children's Reproduction of Inequalities," American Sociological Review 79, no. 5: 1015-1037. 

Jessica McCrory Calarco. 2014. "The Inconsistent Curriculum: Cultural Tool-Kits and Student Interpretations of Ambiguous Expectations," Social Psychology Quarterly 76, no. 2: 186-209. 

Hua Yu Sebastian Cherng, Jessica McCrory Calarco, and Grace Kao. 2013. "Along for the Ride: Best Friends' Resources and Adolescents' College Attendance," American Educational Research Journal 50, no. 1: 76-106. 

Annette Lareau and Jessica McCrory Calarco. 2012. "Class, Cultural Capital, and Institutions: The Case of Families and Schools," Ch. 4 in Susan T. Fiske and Hazel Markus, eds., Facing Social Class: Social Psychology of Social Class. New York: Russell Sage. 

Jessica McCrory Calarco. 2011. "'I Need Help!' Social Class and Children's Help-Seeking in Elementary School," American Sociological Review 76, no. 6: 862-882.* 

*Received the David Lee Stevenson Award for Best Graduate Student Paper from the Sociology of Education Section of the American Sociological Association (2011). 
*Received the Candace Rogers Award for Best Graduate Student Paper from the Eastern Sociological Society (2011). 
Photo Credit: C.

Photo Credit: C.


Jessica McCrory Calarco, Weihua An, and William R. McConnell. "Save Me a Seat: Segregation in Elementary Students' Lunchroom Seating Networks."
(Working Paper)

Jessica McCrory Calarco. "Gender Replay: The Changing Role of Gender in Children's Peer Relationships." 
(Working Paper)


Unlike much research on stratification in schools, Class in the Classroom takes an in-depth look at what actually happens in classrooms, examining how social class shapes children's classroom interactions and how those interactions contribute to inequalities. Drawing on more than two years of ethnographic research in one public elementary school, I show how middle-class and working-class students respond differently to similar challenges and how they reap unequal rewards for their efforts. When managing problems, rules, and impressions, middle-class students activated strategies of influence. They tried to adjust classroom environments to meet their individual needs. Working-class students instead activated strategies of deference. They tried to adjust their behavior to the needs of others. The teachers, in turn, wanted to give all of their students the same opportunity to succeed. But the challenges teachers faced, including accountability pressures, time constraints, and large class sizes, made it hard for them to respond similarly to influence- and deference-based strategies. As a result, middle-class students tended to receive more assistance, more accommodations, and more attention from their teachers, all of which created real advantages in the classroom. After presenting these patterns with evidence from fieldnotes and interviews, I go on to discuss why students activated different strategies of action, describing the class-based logics students used to make sense of challenges they encountered at school and the coaching they received from their parents at home. I also discuss the implications of these findings for research on educational inequalities and for policy efforts aimed at alleviating those inequalities. 

Photo Credit: Gustavo Curado

Photo Credit: Gustavo Curado


This working paper examines the relationship between friendship behaviors and student achievement in elementary school. Using data from two years of observations in elementary school lunchrooms, we identify the relationship between friendship nominations and friendship behaviors (with whom students choose to sit at lunch). Using grade and test score data from students' school records, we also examine the relationship between friendship behaviors and school achievement over time. 

Photo Credit: Smith

Photo Credit: Smith


This working paper uses data from a longitudinal, ethnographic study of elementary-aged children to revisit Barrie Thorne's classic work, Gender Play. It considers how changing gender dynamics in education, society, and popular culture may be subtly altering the nature and salience of gender in children's interactions at school. 


Jessica McCrory Calarco. "Help-Seekers and Silent Strugglers: Student Problem-Solving in Elementary Classrooms," American Educator (Winter 2014/2015). 

Jessica McCrory Calarco, "Study: Middle-Class Students are Better at Asking for Help," The Learning Curve. NBC News Education Nation. (16 Dec 2011).

Photo Credit: minasi

Photo Credit: minasi

Discussions of Recent ResearcH

On-Air Interview with Michael Smyth of CKNW's Simi Sara Show; Hour 2. (22 August 2012).

On-Air Interview with Peter Allen of BBC Radio 5 Live. (21 August 2012).

Zosia Bielski, "Working Class Parents Coach Kids to Problem-Solve, Middle-Class Promote Asking for Help,"The Globe and Mail. (20 Aug 2012).
Graeme Paton, "Working-Class Pupils Lost Out Because They Are 'Too Polite,'" The Telegraph (20 Aug 2012).
"Middle-Class Children: Squeaky Wheels in Training," Science Daily (19 August 2012).
Stephen Hurley, "How Do YOU Teach Self-Advocacy To Your Children," Teaching Out Loud. (22 August 2012).
Tara Malone, "Asking for Help Isn't Easy for Some Students," Chicago Tribune. (4 Jan 2012).
"Middle-Class Students Ask for More Help than Working-Class Peers, Create Own Advantages," Huffington Post. (7 Dec 2011).
Jaclyn Zubrzycki, "Middle-Class Students Seek and Get More Help," Education Week. (14 Dec 2011)
Sarah D. Sparks. "Middle-Class Students are Better at Asking for Academic Help," Inside School Research.Education Week Blog. (7 Dec 2011).
Brea Stover. "Children--Seen and Heard," SAS Frontiers. (24 Jan 2012)
"Middle-Class Students Ask for Help More than Working-Class Peers, Study Finds," Science Daily. (7 Dec 2011)
Don McLenaghen, "Science Sunday #26," Radio Freethinker. (11 Dec 2011).

Dan H. Friedman. "Middle Class Students Seek Help," Raising Arizona Kids. (7 Dec 2011).

Photo Credit: Balogh

Photo Credit: Balogh