2010 January 18 Monday
Academia Liberal Due To Stereotyping?

Has stereotyping convinced conservatives to avoid academic careers?

The academic profession “has acquired such a strong reputation for liberalism and secularism that over the last 35 years few politically or religiously conservative students, but many liberal and secular ones, have formed the aspiration to become professors,” they write in the paper, “Why Are Professors Liberal?” That is especially true of their own field, sociology, which has become associated with “the study of race, class and gender inequality — a set of concerns especially important to liberals.”

What distinguishes Mr. Gross and Mr. Fosse’s research from so much of the hubbub that surrounds this subject is their methodology. Whereas most arguments have primarily relied on anecdotes, this is one of the only studies to use data from the General Social Survey of opinions and social behaviors and compare professors with the rest of Americans.

Seems to me this theory could be tested by going back 60+ years and looking up the voting registration party affiliations of major university professors. My guess is that the academy moved left before the stereotyping of academics as liberals became commonplace.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 January 18 11:47 PM  Education

Red said at January 19, 2010 12:40 AM:

The old line nationalist/traditionalist professors died away when all the students being produced by these institutions came out as indoctrinated progressives or communists. What's the one point of teaching in such a place if you will just have students protesting you all day.

Black Death said at January 19, 2010 6:37 AM:

The student radicals of the 60's have grown up to become professors and have taken over the campuses. They recruit like-minded junior faculty and won't promote and tenure them unless they conform to groupthink. They would deny this, but just look at the party affiliations and political leanings of senior faculty, especially in the humanities, and decide for yourself. I graduated from a Top Ten school, but I won't give them any money because of the political correctness that has taken over the campus.

DK said at January 19, 2010 8:58 AM:

This is exactly the reason I have avoided the academia. I am pretty conservative/libertarian and I worry that it would make it difficult or impossible for me to get any decent jobs, or to get promoted at the ones I get, unless I am literally the BEST. Plus years in the musical theater world have taught me how miserable it is to be around people who disagree with everything you believe, and where saying offensive things to me are natural (black people should have special privileges), but saying things I believe are natural (all people should be treated equal regardless of race) are treated as apostasy.

mike said at January 20, 2010 8:56 AM:

That is especially true of their own field, sociology, which has become associated with “the study of race, class and gender inequality — a set of concerns especially important to liberals.”

And who was it that turned sociology, along with every other subjective academic field, into an all-consuming obsession with "race, class, and gender inequality"?

In the 1960s college campuses, swelled by the large baby-boom generation, became a staging ground for radical leftist social and political movements, further moving the academy away from conservatism.


In the view of the early reformers, the only way to ensure that quality, rather than profit, would be rewarded was to protect the profession from outside competition. The tradeoff for lower salaries was control; professors decide who gets to enter their profession and who doesn’t.

Dots... connecting...

Intentional discrimination, one of the most frequent and volatile charges made by conservatives, turned out not to play a significant role.

Whew, that's a relief.

Mthson said at January 20, 2010 11:58 PM:

When I was making my decision as a young man between going into academia or industry, I imagined what it would be like for me in academia: arguing for 50 years with idiots for a fraction of the pay available in industry.

sg said at January 21, 2010 2:30 PM:

Patrick Henry College, which is religious reactionary not conservative, just won another national debate contest.


no i don't said at January 23, 2010 2:38 PM:

To me, no part of the American society has ever moved to the left. At most it only moved from Far Radical Right towards a healthy Center, but that was back in the 60's and early 70's.

There's no Left in the U.S., there has never been. That's why most Americans don't really know what left is.

Ted Kennedy said at January 25, 2010 4:25 PM:

Left is idiocy. Obama is idiot. Therefore, Obama is left.

GW said at January 26, 2010 11:22 AM:

They have this reversed. The country's politics have been trailing academia's leftward shift, not vice versa. Our mainstream moderate political consensus today is virtually identical to the far-left academic consensus of 40-50 years ago. That's a consistent correlative pattern going back a long time, and is probably ultimately the Mugwumps' fault.

Boomer at Ten said at January 26, 2010 7:07 PM:

As I recall, the student radicals of the 60s were largely welcomed and supported by most of the academic establishment. The professors and more importantly the administrators were already tilting heavily to the left. The earlier rough philosophical balance in higher education had already been disrupted, but apparently not destroyed, by the Depression and the New Deal. Oddly, the death blow was rendered by students of the World War II Generation, may their memory live only in infamy, who flooded the colleges in the 40s and 50s aided by the GI Bill. These men were already mature young adults, who would never accept the guidance, forget about direction, of professors who not only possessed little moral authority but were now emasculated by their lack of war experience. Once the Greatest (sic) Generation broke the bonds with the past, we were all cast adrift on the Sea of Liberalism. Government by rule of Reason (that somehow accidentally always favors the powerful and ruthless) is the result. Is it not great?

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