Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Mahala Dyer Stewart presented a paper, “The Racialized Insecurity Shift: Black and White Mothers’ Carework in School Choice,” at a mini-conference on Carework at the Eastern Sociological Society’s annual conference in Philadelphia in February.

According to Stewart’s abstract:  “Using interview data, I examine the care work black and white middle-class mothers engage to navigate school choice for their children. When schools fail to meet their families’ expectations, mothers absorb the work involved in seeking alternative options. This further supports them being pushed out of paid employment and into unpaid caregiving positions. I call this care work a ‘racialized insecurity shift,’ to show how race shapes mothers’ navigation of school choice in uncertain times.

While most respondents explain seeking educational programs that will cater to their child’s intellectual needs to compete in a global world, variations surface by race. For example, black mothers prioritize developing self-sufficiency in their children as a means of survival in the face of racial discrimination. White mothers emphasize catering to their individual child's interests and building emotional connections with their children, reflecting the privilege of whiteness.

These findings elucidate how race and gender shape the carework mothers engage in response to 21st century schooling.”

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