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Jessi Streib

Associate Professor of Sociology, Duke University
Chapter Member: North Carolina SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Jessi

Streib's research uncovers mechanisms and builds theories about how social class inequality is experienced, reproduced, and alleviated.

In the News

Opinion: "How Wealth in Childhood Shapes Personality Later in Life," Jessi Streib, The Atlantic, April 28, 2018.
Opinion: "For Richer or Poorer: The Challenges of Marrying outside Your Class," Jessi Streib, Washington Post, March 26, 2017.
Opinion: "Cross Class Marriage," Jessi Streib, BBC, September 23, 2015.
Opinion: "If Preschools are to Level the Social Class Playing Field, They Must Prevent Four Year Old Children and Their Teachers from Tilting It," Jessi Streib, London School of Economics U.S. Centre's Blog on Politics and Policy, February 10, 2015.


"Benign Inequality: Frames of Social Class Inequality in Children’s Movies" (with Miryea Ayala and Colleen Wixted). Journal of Poverty 21(1) 21, no. 1 (2017): 1-19.

Examines the proportional representation of characters in each class as well as frames of class conditions, characters, and the opportunity structure. These frames suggest that children’s media legitimates poverty and social class inequality in a new way—by presenting them as benign.

"The Unbalanced Theoretical Toolkit: Problems and Partial Solutions to Studying Culture and Reproduction but Not Culture and Mobility" American Journal of Cultural Sociology 5, no. 1 (2017): 127-153.

Works to move the study of class and culture past studies of social reproduction by offering new ways to also study culture and social class mobility.

"The Power of the Past: Understanding Cross-Class Marriages" (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Traces the lives of a subset of these individuals - highly-educated adults who married a partner raised in a class different from their own, primarily between those from blue- and white-color backgrounds. Drawing upon detailed interviews with spouses who revealed the inner workings of their marriages, shows that crossing class lines is not easy, and that even though these couples shared bank accounts, mortgages, children, and friends, each spouse was still shaped by the class of their past, and consequently, so was their marriage.

"Class Reproduction by Four Year Olds" Qualitative Sociology 34, no. 2 (2011): 337- 352.

Shows that preschoolers are already class actors, performing class through their linguistic styles. Upper-middle-class children speak, interrupt, ask for help, and argue more often than working-class children. Upper-middle-class children’s classed linguistic style effectively silences working-class students, gives them less power, and allows them fewer opportunities to develop their language skills.