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Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care?

Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care?

by Neil GrossNeil Gross
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Some observers see American academia as a bastion of leftist groupthink that indoctrinates students and silences conservative voices. Others see a protected enclave that naturally produces free-thinking, progressive intellectuals. Both views are self-serving, says Neil Gross, but neither is correct. Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care? explains how academic liberalism became a self-reproducing phenomenon, and why Americans on both the left and right should take notice.

Academia employs a higher percentage of liberals than nearly any other profession. But the usual explanations-hiring bias against conservatives, correlations of liberal ideology with high intelligence-do not hold up to scrutiny. Drawing on a range of original research, statistics, and interviews, Gross argues that "political typing" plays an overlooked role in shaping academic liberalism. For historical reasons, the professoriate developed a reputation for liberal politics early in the twentieth century. As this perception spread, it exerted a self-selecting influence on bright young liberals, while deterring equally promising conservatives. Most professors' political views were formed well before they stepped behind the lectern for the first time.

Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care? shows how studying the political sympathies of professors and their critics can shed light not only on academic life but also on American politics, where the modern conservative movement was built in no small part around opposition to the "liberal elite" in higher education. This divide between academic liberals and nonacademic conservatives makes accord on issues as diverse as climate change, immigration, and foreign policy more difficult.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674059092
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/09/2013
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 936,703
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Neil Gross is Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology at Colby College.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Politics of American Professors 23

2 Why Are They Liberal? The Standard Explanations 65

3 Political Self-Selection and the Academic Profession 104

4 Political Differences among Professors 141

5 The Knowledge-Politics Problem 185

6 The Campaign against "Liberal Bias" 220

7 Why Conservatives Care 252

Conclusion 301

Notes 315

Acknowledgments 382

Index 385

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