Episode for June 3, 2024

1113 Dr Jessica Calarco

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A Sociologist and Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jessica is an award-winning teacher, a leading expert on inequalities in family life and education, and the author of the forthcoming book Holding it Together: How Women Became America’s Social Safety Net (Portfolio/Penguin, 2024). Her previous books include Qualitative Literacy: A Guide to Evaluating Ethnographic and Interview Research (with Mario Small; University of California Press, 2022), Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School (Oxford University Press, 2018), and A Field Guide to Grad School: Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum (Princeton University Press, 2020).

Jessica has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and CNN. She also blogs at ParenthoodPhD and is a mom of two young kids.

Twitter https://x.com/JessicaCalarco

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jessica.mccrorycalarco

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jesscalarco/



My research focuses on education, families, and health decision-making. Broadly speaking, I am interested in the structures of power and privilege that maintain socioeconomic, racial, and gender inequalities in these settings, as well as the role that qualitative methods can play in uncovering these mechanisms.
Much of my early work, including my first book, Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School, uses ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews to reveal the origins and consequences of social class differences in interactions between students, teachers, and parents. Building on this research and on my work teaching and mentoring students in higher education, I also published A Field Guide to Grad School: Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum.
My more recent and ongoing research, including my forthcoming book, Holding it TogetherHow Women Became America’s Safety Net, draws on in-depth interviews and original surveys to show how US families navigate the challenges of raising children (and making decisions about work, childcare, schooling, and healthcare) in the context of high levels of inequality and in the absence of adequate policy support.
As an active public sociologist, I seek to make research accessible to broad audiences, including through my book Qualitative Literacy: A Guide to Evaluating Ethnographic and Interview Research and by writing for high-profile media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Inside Higher Ed.

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