Degrees of Inequality reveals the powerful patterns of social inequality in American higher education by analyzing how the social background of students shapes nearly every facet of the college experience.
Even as the most prestigious institutions claim to open their doors to students from diverse backgrounds, class disparities remain. Just two miles apart stand two institutions that represent the stark class contrast in American higher education. Yale, an elite Ivy League university, boasts accomplished alumni, including national and world leaders in business and politics. Southern Connecticut State University graduates mostly commuter students seeking credential degrees in fields with good job prospects.
Ann L. Mullen interviewed students from both universities and found that their college choices and experiences were strongly linked to social background and gender. Yale students, most having generations of family members with college degrees, are encouraged to approach their college years as an opportunity for intellectual and personal enrichment. Southern students, however, perceive a college degree as a path to a better career, and many work full- or part-time jobs to help fund their education.
Moving interviews with 100 students at the two institutions highlight how American higher education reinforces the same inequities it has been aiming to transcend.
|Publisher:||Johns Hopkins University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Ann L. Mullen is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.
Table of Contents
1 Yale and Southern 16
2 The High School Years 31
3 Deciding to Go to College 72
4 Choosing Colleges 84
5 Going to College 118
6 Majors and Knowledge 156
Note on Methodology 225
What People are Saying About This
This book shows us two worlds of higher education, differing in the students they attract, how those students decide whether and where to matriculate, what they believe their futures hold, the subjects in which they major, and their very understanding of the meaning of knowledge. A gifted listener and writer, Ann Mullen articulates these different experiences and visions, demonstrates how personal biography and institutional location interact, and tells a story important for anyone who cares about the meaning of higher education today and the forces that may change tomorrow.
Paul DiMaggio, A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Degrees of Inequality is a fabulous book in the best traditions of the sociology of education. Theoretically sophisticated, it illuminates the social processes that generate inequality in American higher education. Ann Mullen’s engaging writing style will draw readers to its arguments.
Jane Gaskell, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
This finely textured study of students at two nearby universities, Yale and Southern Connecticut State, complements the existing heavily quantitative studies of college-going. Mullen’s in-depth interviews capture splendidly the profound differences between students at these two universities in terms of social background and college experiences, revealing a striking degree of stratification.
William G. Bowen, President Emeritus, Princeton University and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation