Annette Lareau, Ph.D.

Annette Lareau

Professor of Sociology


386 McNeil Building


Annette Lareau is a sociologist who studies family life. She focuses particularly on social class differences in family life, as well as the relationships between families and institutions. She has explored these issues in the arena of family-school relationships (i.e., Home Advantage), the cultural logic of child rearing (i.e., Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life), the process through which parents go about deciding where to live and send their children to school (i.e., Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools edited with Kimberly Goyette), and, in how refugee families face hurdles and knots in institutions as they seek upward mobility (Blair Sackett and Annette Lareau, We Thought It Would Be Heaven: Refugees in an Unequal America, University of California Press, August 2023). She is also the author of Listening to People: A Practical Guide to Interviewing, Participant-Observation, Data Analysis, and Writing It All Up.

Raised in California, she received her doctorate from University of California. Berkeley. She joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 after having work at University of Maryland, College Park, Temple University, and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She has received grants from the Spencer Foundation and, most recently, the National Science Foundation. An active member of the American Sociological Association, she served as Chair of the Education Section as well as the Family Section. She served as President of the American Sociological Association and presided over the 2014 annual meeting.

Her books have received numerous awards. Home Advantage received the prize for Distinguished Scholarship by the American Sociological Association Section on Sociology of Education. Unequal Childhoods was honored by three different sections in the American Sociological Association (i.e,. Childhood and Youth, Culture (co-winner), and Family). Unequal Childhoods was discussed by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers; it was also written up by David Brooks of the New York Times. In addition, she received the University of Pennsylvania Provost’s Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentorship in 2020.

In her current study, Families and Money, Annette Lareau is using qualitative methods to understand the blessings and challenges faced by families with high net worth. She is studying a total of 75 families. One-half of the families have created wealth (i.e., “Generation one); the other one-half of the families in the study have inherited wealth. This research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation.

Beginning in the 2022-2023 year, Annette Lareau will be teaching one class per year having stepped away from full-time teaching. She will also continue to be active in the profession; she is collecting data for her wealth study. She will also advise doctoral students in meetings and as a member of her committee. Indeed, she is always happy to talk with doctoral students about their research. A conference, marking this transition, is being held at Penn in April 2023:


Ph.D., Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 1984
M.A., Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 1978
B.A., with highest honors, Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1974

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