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Managing Elites

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Overview

How does one become a member of an elite profession? Managing Elites examines how elites-in-training contest, rationalize and ultimately enthusiastically embrace their dominant positions in society. Using interviews with 79 law and MBA students, the author argues that elite socialization requires both accommodation and resistance to professional ideologies. Students develop a collective cynicism about elements of their education, learning that their discipline imparts esoteric knowledge — but also claiming that they didn't learn anything. They struggle with the idea that fellow students are all equally intelligent and therefore deserving of elite status, and the continuing emphasis on activities that sort students. Students resist that paths to success promoted by school cultures—investment banking, consulting, or becoming partner in a large law firm. Such cynicism is indeed ultimately revealed to be temporary, as most students end up in full support of these "jobs of least resistance". Their critiques do, however, create tensions: between competition and cooperation, between the individual and the collective, and between egalitarianism and elitism. Part of elite socialization is learning to deal with these tensions, or more specifically, to hold contradictory ideals at the same time.

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Editorial Reviews

Education
This interesting and clearly written book should help extinguish the sense one sometimes gets in introductory sociology classes that everything of significance for the sociology of the professions has already been done. This book should appeal to those seeking to understand the sociological character of the students attending the nation's elite law and business schools.
Work and Occupations
This book should be required reading in the professions' courses on social responsibility and ethics, and in sociology courses on the professions. It would also fit the syllabi of many courses on social stratification and inequality.
Law and Social Inquiry
She highlights tension between individual and collectivity, and between competing and cooperating, which marks the students' experiences, and notes that students tend to develop a cynical outlook on their education, which they see as arcane and minimally practical. 2000
Ira Silver
This book has the promise of becoming a major contribution to our understanding of social reproduction processes, and from a vantage point that is indeed vastly understudied: elites. There is a fascinating, important, and previously untold story here, and moreover, the author has really rich and interesting data with which to tell this story.
Law & Social Inquiry
She highlights tension between individual and collectivity, and between competing and cooperating, which marks the students' experiences, and notes that students tend to develop a cynical outlook on their education, which they see as arcane and minimally practical. 2000
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742538481
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/22/2005
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 0.75 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Debra Jo Schleef, Ph.D Northwestern University, is a professor of Sociology at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. She is the author of numerous scholarly articles in law and education journals. Her most recent book is Managing Elites: Accomodation and Resistance in Law and Business Schools (Rowman and Littlefield Press, 2005).

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Ideology and Social Reproduction in Education Chapter 2 "That's a Good Question!" Exploring Motivations at Entry Chapter 3 I Didn't Think It Would Be like "The Paper Chase!" Chapter 4 "It's All Common Sense:" Ideology and Resistance in the Provision of Professional Skills Chapter 5 Thinking Like a Lawyer, Strategizing Like a Manager Chapter 6 Empty Ethics and Reasonable Responsibility Chapter 7 Jobs of Least Resistance Chapter 8 Pursuing Elite Professional Careers

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