Barn house, Pamela, Walters and Philip J. O Conner, The Family Economy, Work, and Educational Participation in the United States, 1890-1940," American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 93, No. 5, March 1988, Pages 1116-1152. The purpose for doing this research was to determine if the economy had a direct influence on educational attendance rates of working class children. The authors argue that not enough focus was placed on the organization of the family economy and the role it played in the child s education or lack of education.
They compared and contrasted lower working class children from rural and urban backgrounds. The authors wanted to determine the relationship economic influence and school participation played on children being raised in these two societies. This study was focused between the years 1890 and 1940 s. The authors picked this time period for its massive economic change, progressing more to an industrialized society. It also was a time that the need for all members of the family to be employed began the transformation to a family consumer economy, in which the male was the primary wage earner and any additional income brought in was not linked to family survival. It was not until the late 1940 s that education would take on a more important role in the development of the children.
In the early 1900 s, children from both societies were thought of as assets to the family s survival. Rural families had a higher population of children not in school, because they were seen as a necessity for running the family farms. With industry on the rise, the economy demanded more and more output from farm workers as to supply products to the nearby industrial areas. Although, their children were not wage earners rural families were dependent on their output of manual labor to meet the increased supply and demand. However, rural children still had higher attendance rates than their urban peers.
Rural families were able to send their children to school seasonally and still have them contribute to the family economy when needed. The children from urban backgrounds had it much harder. They were composed of immigrants, lower class families and the rural families moving toward the industrialized societies. Unlike their rural counterparts, the children from this diverse group were needed for the labor contributions to the family. They had to make a choice between their education and the need for money to survive. In addition, the effects of industrialization and increased availability of jobs had a tremendous impact on older children s job opportunities.
In most cases, the expectations of the family economy made these children enter the workforce and fore go their education. The authors's tidies indicate school attendance did improve. However, it was a staged process and arranged by social class. They show that the elite or upper class was the first group brought into secondary education, followed by the middle class and then by the working class.
It seems that for the families of the upper and middle class sending their children to school was a requirement, where as the lower working class families still had an active choice when determining if their child received an education. This pattern would not change for the working class children in the rural and urban societies until later. In conclusion, the authors analysis showed that the effects of these two societies about school attendance varied little over the time period covered. Further, they show a direct link between low school attendance and the family economy of the lower class working families.
They have demonstrated that most family economies are based on material items and survival needs, to survive during this time frame meant that all family members had to contribute. Therefore, the type of backgrounds the children were raised in had a direct correlation to school attendance. The authors further determined that their studies have setup the framework for a more detailed analysis of the determining factors of school expansion in the future. Economy/Work.