Dr. Maia Cucchiara's research interests fall into three often-overlapping categories. First, she is interested in urban education policy, particularly in the intersections between policy assumptions and discourses, issues of race and class, and people’s lived experiences. Second, she studies family-school relations, with a focus on how class shapes parents’ experiences with urban schools and their children’s education more broadly. Third, she is interested in the impact of urban development and revitalization on public education and the implications for disadvantaged students. Dr. Cucchiara is the author of Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities (University of Chicago Press, 2013). Her current project, an ethnographic study of low-income mothers’ experiences with parenting education, is funded by a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation.

Research Interests

  • Educational Policy,Sociology,Urban Education

Courses Taught




URBE 5417

The Urban Environment


Selected Publications


  • Cucchiara, M. & Steinbugler, A.C. (2021). “The Books Make You Feel Bad”: Expert Advice and Maternal Anxiety in the Early 21st Century*. Sociological Forum, 36(4), pp. 939-961. doi: 10.1111/socf.12748

  • Cucchiara, M. (2021). "Sometimes you have to pop them": Conflict and Meaning-Making in a Parenting Class. SOCIAL PROBLEMS, 68(4), pp. 1010-1025. doi: 10.1093/socpro/spaa045

  • Cucchiara, M., Cassar, E., & Clark, M. (2019). ‘‘I Just Need a Job!’’ Behavioral Solutions, Structural Problems, and the Hidden Curriculum of Parenting Education. Sociology of Education, 92(4), pp. 326-345. doi: 10.1177/0038040719861363

  • Cucchiara, M. (2019). Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School. AMERICAN JOURNAL of EDUCATION, 125(4), pp. 653-657. doi: 10.1086/704101

  • Cucchiara, M. (2019). Middle-class engagement in urban public education: Implications for family-school partnerships. In The Wiley Handbook of Family, School, and Community Relationships in Education (pp. 575-595). doi: 10.1002/9781119083054.ch27

  • Woyshner, C. & Cucchiara, M. (2017). Can parent-teacher groups work for all students? Educational Leadership, 75(1), pp. 64-69.

  • Posey-Maddox, L., Kimelberg, S., & Cucchiara, M. (2016). Seeking a ‘critical mass’: middle-class parents’ collective engagement in city public schooling. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 37(7), pp. 905-927. doi: 10.1080/01425692.2014.986564

  • Cucchiara, M. (2016). The Unacknowledged Disaster: Youth Poverty and Educational Failure in America. CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGY-A JOURNAL of REVIEWS, 45(5), pp. 580-582. doi: 10.1177/0094306116664524e

  • Cucchiara, M. (2016). Enter the Alternative School: Critical Answers to Questions in Urban Education. CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGY-A JOURNAL of REVIEWS, 45(4), pp. 508-510. doi: 10.1177/0094306116653953hhh

  • Cucchiara, M.B. & Lareau, A. (2016). Proceed with caution: Replication and ethnographic research.”. Sociology of Education Newsletter(Winter), pp. 4-5.

  • Cucchiara, M. (2016). Thinking Locally: Attending to Social Context in Studies of Marketing and Public Education. Peabody Journal of Education, 91(1), pp. 121-130. doi: 10.1080/0161956X.2016.1119595

  • Cucchiara, M.B., Rooney, E., & Robertson-Kraft, C. (2015). “I’ve Never Seen People Work So Hard!” Teachers’ Working Conditions in the Early Stages of School Turnaround. Urban Education, 50(3), pp. 259-287. doi: 10.1177/0042085913501896

  • Cucchiara, M.B. & Childs, D. (2014). Review of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. Teachers College Record.

  • Cucchiara, M.B. & Horvat, E. (2014). Choosing selves: The salience of parental identity in the school choice process. Journal of Education Policy, 29(4), pp. 486-509. doi: 10.1080/02680939.2013.849760

  • Tincani, M., Cucchiarra, M.B., Thurman, S.K., Snyder, M.R., & McCarthy, C.M. (2014). Evaluating NRC's Recommendations for Educating Children with Autism a Decade Later. Child and Youth Care Forum, 43(3), pp. 315-337. doi: 10.1007/s10566-013-9240-z

  • Posey-Maddox, L., Kimelberg, S.M., & Cucchiara, M. (2014). Middle-class parents and urban public schools: Current research and future directions. Sociology Compass, 8(4), pp. 446-456. doi: 10.1111/soc4.12148

  • Cucchiara, M. (2013). "I want the white people here:" The dark side of an urban school renaissance. In M.B. Katz & M. Rose (Eds.), Public education under siege. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Retrieved from

  • Cucchiara, M. (2013). "Are We Doing Damage?" Choosing an Urban Public School in an Era of Parental Anxiety. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 44(1), pp. 75-93. doi: 10.1111/aeq.12004

  • Cucchiara, M., Gold, E., & Simon, E. (2011). Contracts, choice, and customer service: Marketization and public engagement in education. Teachers College Record, 113(11), pp. 2460-2502.

  • Cucchiara, M.B. & Horvat, E.M. (2009). Perils and promises: Middle-class parental involvement in urban schools. American Educational Research Journal, 46(4), pp. 974-1004. doi: 10.3102/0002831209345791

  • Cucchiara, M. (2008). Re-branding urban schools: Urban revitalization, social status, and marketing public schools to the upper middle class. Journal of Education Policy, 23(2), pp. 165-179. doi: 10.1080/02680930701853088