Childhood and Education in the United States and Russia: Sociological and Comparative Perspectives


 Presenter (s) Katerina Bodovski, Pennsylvania State University
Current tensions between the U.S. and Russia are at their highest since the end of the Cold War. In such circumstances, it is imperative to go beyond headlines and rhetoric and take a closer look at the texture of Russian and American societies. Childhood and Education in the United States and Russia provides a rich illustration of the social processes within these countries. Through an extensive interdisciplinary literature review from different fields (sociology, education, history and political science) and quantitative analyses of both national and international datasets, this book explores three main questions. First, to what extent does the institution of education intersect with (or even overtake) the institution of childhood in these two countries? Over the last several decades, with the rapid expansion of higher education, we observe a greater emphasis on academic outcomes throughout childhood which, in turn, makes parenting further geared to academic success. We understand and often measure childhood in terms of academic achievement; there is an increasing emphasis on preschool education both at the individual level of a family and the macro level of a country. Second, sociological research shows profound inequality existing within and between countries that affects children’s everyday experiences, as well as their lifelong chances. To what extent is childhood stratified by the social background into which a child is born in Russia and the US? Finally, to what extent (if any) do we observe the strengthening of children’s agency, both in theoretical developments in sociology of education and childhood, and educational practice and parental strategies? Throughout the book childhood is conceptualized utilizing the lenses of capitals. In addition to cultural and social capital, a particular attention is paid to the role emotional capital plays in the lives of children and their families. By discussing education and childhood from a sociological perspective with a focus on similarities and differences by time and place, this book will prove an invaluable resource for students and researchers in the fields of Sociology of Education, Sociology of Childhood and Comparative and International Education.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Establishing Theoretical Tools
Chapter 1. Childhood and Education Intertwined
Chapter 2. Children and Schooling through Sociological Lens
Chapter 3. Understanding Stratification in Socialist and Post-Socialist Space

Part 2. Comparing Childhoods
Chapter 4. Change or Continuity: from the Soviet Reality to the New Russia
Chapter 5. Brave New World? Staggering Inequality in America
Chapter 6. Quantifying Childhood (co-authored with Volha Chykina)
Chapter 7. Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going

Appendix. Datasets Used for the Analysis in Chapters 5 and 6

Dr. Katerina Bodovski is an Associate Professor of Educational Theory and Policy in the Department of Education Policy Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from The Pennsylvania State University in 2007.  She obtained both an M.A. in Sociology and a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Dr. Bodovski’s research interests include sociology of education, stratification and inequality, parental practices, cultural capital, comparative and international education, and education of immigrant children. Broadly defined, her research focuses on gaining an understanding of the factors shaping student behavior and academic achievement, related to family practices, neighborhood characteristics and school settings. More recently, Dr. Bodovski has expanded her research to include post-socialist countries of Eastern and Central Europe, as well as cross-national examination of characteristics of the educational systems. In 2015, Dr. Bodovski published a book Across Three Continents: Reflections on Immigration, Education, and Personal Survival (Peter Lang Publishing). This combination of autobiographical narrative and sociological analysis discusses the author’s firsthand experiences in Soviet Russia, Israel, and the United States. Her second book, Childhood and Education in the United States and Russia: Sociological and Comparative Perspectives(2019, Emerald Group Publishing), dives deeper into understanding of the social texture of the two countries and the ways they shape childhood experiences.