The Academic Revolution

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The Academic Revolution describes the rise to power of professional scholars and scientists, first in America's leading universities and now in the larger society as well. Without attempting a full-scale history of American higher education, it outlines a theory about its development and present status. It is illustrated with firsthand observations of a wide variety of colleges and universities the country over-colleges for the rich and colleges for the upwardly mobile; colleges for vocationally oriented men and colleges for intellectually and socially oriented women; colleges for Catholics and colleges for Protestants; colleges for blacks and colleges for rebellious whites.

The authors also look at some of the revolution's consequences. They see it as intensifying conflict between young and old, and provoking young people raised in permissive, middle-class homes to attacks on the legitimacy of adult authority. In the process, the revolution subtly transformed the kinds of work to which talented young people aspire, contributing to the decline of entrepreneurship and the rise of professionalism. They conclude that mass higher education, for all its advantages, has had no measurable effect on the rate of social mobility or the degree of equality in American society.

Jencks and Riesman are not nostalgic; their description of the nineteenth-century liberal arts colleges is corrosively critical. They maintain that American students know more than ever before, that their teachers are more competent and stimulating than in earlier times, and that the American system of higher education has brought the American people to an unprecedented level of academic competence. But while they regard the academic revolution as having been an historically necessary and progressive step, they argue that, like all revolutions, it can devour its children. For Jencks and Riesman, academic professionalism is an advance over amateur gentility, but they warn of its dangers and limitations: the elitism and arrogance implicit in meritocracy, the myopia that derives from a strictly academic view of human experience and understanding, the complacency that comes from making technical competence an end rather than a means.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765801159
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/24/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 610
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Jencks is Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of Rethinking Social Policy: Race, Poverty and the Underclass, The Homeless, and co-editor of The Black-White Text Score Gap.

Christopher Jencks is Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of Rethinking Social Policy: Race, Poverty and the Underclass, The Homeless, and co-editor of The Black-White Text Score Gap.

David Riesman (1909-2002) was Henry Ford II Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Harvard University. Before teaching at Harvard he taught at the University of Chicago and University of Buffalo Law School. He is the author of numerous books, including Thorstein Veblen, The Lonely Crowd, and Variety in American Education.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition ix
Introduction xix
I. The Academic Revolution in Perspective 1
Traditional Colleges and Their Clients 1
The Spread of Meritocratic Institutions 8
The Rise of the University 12
The University College 20
II. The War between the Generations 28
Academic Age-grading Yesterday and Today 28
The Role of Student Subcultures 35
The Adult Backlash and the "Safe" Colleges 50
III. Social Stratification and Mass Higher Education 61
Education versus Certification 61
Social Stratification in America 64
Cultural Stratification in America 74
The Emergence of Mass Higher Education 90
Higher Education as a Social Sieve 97
Colleges versus the Upwardly Mobile: Pricing 107
Colleges versus the Upwardly Mobile: Tests 121
Colleges versus the Upwardly Mobile: Motivation 133
Toward a More Open Society: Financial Reform 136
Toward a More Open Society: Academic Reform 140
Mobility or Equality? 146
IV. Nationalism versus Localism 155
The Early Localists 156
The Rise of National Professions 160
Non-Meritocratic Nationalization 165
Politics, Taxes, and Localism 168
Regional Variations 171
Localism, Pluralism, and Meritocracy 177
Localism and Commuting 181
Geographic Dispersion and Community Development 185
Age and Sponsorship in Nationalization 191
V. The Professional Schools 199
Professionalism and Its Consequences 199
Seminaries 207
Medical Schools 212
Military Academies 219
Engineering Schools 223
Teachers Colleges 231
Graduate Schools of Arts and Sciences 236
An Overview 251
VI. Class Interests and the "Public-Private" Controversy 257
The Bifurcation of Higher Education 257
The Financing of Public and Private Colleges 270
Admissions Requirements in the Public and Private Sectors 279
College Imagery and Self-Imagery 286
VII. Feminism, Masculinism, and Coeducation 291
The Rise of Coeducation 291
The Women's Colleges 302
VIII. Protestant Denominations and Their Colleges 312
Protestant Denominationalism 312
Diversity, Separatism, and the Founding of New Colleges 314
Natural Selection and Evolution among Denominational Colleges 322
The Holdouts Face the Future 328
IX. Catholics and Their Colleges 334
Catholicism in America 334
The Control of Catholic Colleges 343
Professionalism: Clerical versus Lay Models 356
Defining a Clientele: Sex 375
Defining a Clientele: Geography 380
Defining a Clientele: Class 382
Defining a Clientele: Ethnicity 395
The Future of the Catholic Colleges 398
X. Negroes and Their Colleges 406
Negroes in America 406
The Evolution of the Negro Colleges 417
The Fruits of Oppression 425
The Future of the Negro Colleges: Recruitment 436
The Future of the Private Negro Colleges 451
Alternatives for the Private Negro Colleges 461
The Future of the Public Negro Colleges 469
Conclusion and Postscript 474
XI. The Anti-University Colleges 480
The Community College Movement 481
The General Education Movement 492
Other Non-Academic Professions and Organizations 504
XII. Reforming the Graduate Schools 510
The Pitfalls of Nostalgia 510
Starting at the Top 513
"Pure" versus "Applied" Work 516
Disciplines versus Subdisciplines: The Need for More Mobility and Anarchy 523
The Art of Teaching 531
Conclusion 539
References 545
Index 559
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