Quick thoughts on elitism in academia

The #ESS2018 controversy is interesting given some recent suggestions I made to an ASA section included greater inclusion of graduate students from programs with fewer resource, and recognition of faculty at teaching-oriented institutions. There are a lot of issues with the advertisement for the Eastern Sociological Society’s annual meeting, with gender and institutional prestige standing out the most. However, Jeremy Freese points out in his tweet:


For me, what stands out, is the way in which the academic elite reproduces itself. This has been a hot topic in recent years – undoubtedly magnified by the adjunctification of the professorate. Furthermore, it’s not just a matter of prestige, it’s a matter of livelihoods and access to the resources to thrive in the profession. The fact of the matter is that resources lead to academic success. Take for instance the blog post earlier this year by Pamela Gay on conference travel and its resonance amongst other academics.

Coverage of the problem of institutional prestige includes articles in Chronicle of Higher Education as well, Science, and Slate. There are studies in a number of fields that top programs dominate hiring e.g. political science. Sarah Kendzior has called this Academia’s 1%. In fact, Jeremy Freese and Spencer Headworth have conducted research on the role of prestige in our field of sociology. Certainly, this is connected to gender. It is also clear that there is a publishing gap, and that men get more credit for their work (fyi… the ASA’s comment on the study).

What can people do about it? Andrea Voyer has a great blog post on it. The idea is make an effort to reach beyond your own network.