Contexts

understanding people in their social worlds

Fall 2012

Volume: 11 | Number: 4

This special issue looks at the relationship between capitalism, neoliberalism, and higher education. Features include viewpoints on creeping corporatization in academia, a case study in how big state universities are failing non-affluent undergrads, and a closer look at the predatory lending practices that created a nation of indentured students.

Mind Which Gap?

Since the early nineteenth century, social reformers have been concerned with how different groups fare in school. In the early 1960s, … Read More

Teaching to Distraction

The classroom is a social space, and how students experience and perceive that space shapes how they approach their classrooms and what they do in them. Margaret Austin Smith uses ethnographic data of college students' classroom experiences to demonstrate the degree of importance understanding students' ways of knowing the classroom has on the effectiveness of teaching and learning relationships. Read More

Anti-Social Debts

The current student debt burden is an unsustainable outcome of the government's abdication of responsibility to secure access to higher education. Andrew Ross analyses the factors behind the funding crisis and suggests some ways to reestablish an affordable education system. Read More

The Not-So-Pink Ivory Tower

Sociologist Ann Mullen explores what it means that women now earn the majority of bachelor’s degrees. Rather than seeing this as a sign of a “male crisis” in higher education, this article concludes that the gender integration of higher education is far from complete. Read More

Revising Peer Review

Kathleen Fitzpatrick argues that as online platforms for scholarly publishing foster increasingly fluid means of communication amongst researchers, the principles on which such publishing is founded—including, most crucially, peer review—must become more flexible. Read More

Degree by Default

In past generations, college was thought to be a site for higher learning in America. Yet April Yee's ethnographic research finds that few undergraduates are enrolling for the pursuit of knowledge anymore; instead, students are going to college simply because they believe they must have a degree to have a future in our society. Read More

American Sentimentalism and the Production of Global Citizens

"American Sentimentalism and the Production of Global Citizens" looks at recent trends in the globalization of U.S. higher education through the lens of sentimentalism to expose three dangers: the linking of a certain kind of productivity with global citizenship; the division of the world into global citizens and global subjects; and the illusion that awareness and enthusiasm are sufficient for social change. Social scientist Ron Krabill calls for international education policies that embrace radical reciprocity to overcome these dangers. Read More

Keeping Rank

Sociologist Dana M. Britton examines barriers to advancement in the academy, focusing on long-term associate professors. In particular, she draws attention to the role of "institutional reproduction"—teaching, advising, and service—as a barrier to advancement. Read More

College Sports’ Corporate Arena

Sociologist D. Randall Smith argues that a segment of big-time college sports has embraced the corporate model and this has led to a steady increase in the revenue gap between the "haves" and "have nots." Read More

The Chattering Class

Sociologist Michael Schudson reviews Ronald Jacobs and Eleanor Townsley’s The Space of Opinion. He argues that this full-length study of opinion journalism in the United States makes a strong case that the mix of diverse opinions, formats, and personalities in our era of op-ed pages, talk radio, and cable TV helps engage citizens with politics and improves democratic deliberation. Read More