Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

CSDE Fellow/Alumni Presentations

"They expect more from you" - Working-Class Transitions to Adulthood

Amy Bailey, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago

10/21/2016
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Co-Sponsor(s):

West Coast Poverty Center

This project examines an understudied topic at the intersection of life course and social mobility research: the transition to adulthood among working class youth. In an era when family wage jobs that do not require a college degree–jobs like those that many of their parents hold–are disappearing, how do working class adolescents navigate the array of options available to them, and make decisions about what to do once they leave high school? Using data collected from focus groups with young people aged 16-21 living in a cluster of working class neighborhoods in Chicago, I find that these young people universally want to go to college, but lack a clear sense of the actions required to accomplish that goal, or the social and institutional resources to effectively guide them.


Amy Kate Bailey (Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago) is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research is broadly focused on issues of race and inequality, with an historical line of inquiry that focuses on racial violence, and a body of contemporary work on institutions and inequality. Her work has been published in journals including The American Sociological Review and The American Journal of Sociology. Her 2015 book, Lynched: The Victims of Southern Mob Violence, co-authored with Stew Tolnay, received the 2015 IPUMS-USA Research Award from the Minnesota Population Center.