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the shifting landscape of elite american sociology

I was having dinner with a Team Fabio affiliate who was making the choice between two really excellent sociology programs. In discussing his choice, we got into the issue of who is now on top in terms of status. In Ye Olden Days, elite sociology meant the following: the Chicago/Columbia/Berkeley axis + massive public flagship schools (UNC, Wisconsin, UCLA, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana). Now, the landscape has changed a bit. The major change seems to be the rise of smaller private schools. While these schools have always been the home of good scholars, it is only recently that they’ve boosted their status by gathering critical masses of elite scholars, consistent publication in top presses and journals, and consistent placement of PhD students in competitive programs. Here the examples are well known – Princeton, Harvard, and Duke in the top ten. Slightly lower down the ranking would be Northwestern, NYU, and Cornell. Certainly well known, but not considered powerhouses of sociology 20 or 3o years ago. Similarly, there’s been sliding among the elites with Chicago and Columbia no longer at the top. The (flawed) 2011 NRC ranks also bumped some prominent flagships (Madison, Bloomington).

Why the change? There are many factors. There’s always complacency and in-fighting. But I think the change is more profound. First, the big flagships had the comparative advantage because 20th century American sociology was built on big surveys. No longer the case. Second, some programs “woke up.” My impression in reading history books is that elite private schools weren’t terribly interested in sociology. Deans were content to let a sociology program be dominated by one or two “big names,” but not invest in the infrastructure needed for high visibility sociology. For some reason, things just changed. Supporting sociology was on the agenda at these schools. Third, along the same line, my sense is that there’s been a real change in training. Princeton for example seems to fit the model. No graduate has ever described it as a fun, cuddly place, but almost every grad has reported that they have enough financial support, almost all students have an adviser, and there is *lots* of prof/student co-authorship. Not much falling through the cracks. That translates into jobs and high visibility.

I encourage older faculty to comment. Does this match your perception? Counter evidence? Alternative explanations?

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Written by fabiorojas

April 17, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in academia, fabio, sociology

32 Responses

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  1. I actually know of lots of folks from pton who describe it as friendly and just all around great place. I also think pton grads do significantly LESS coauthorship with advisors than other top programs (check out the CVs of the top placements in recent years).

    Anyway, I know that’s not the main point of your post…

    Like

    Hmm

    April 17, 2014 at 12:26 am

  2. Well, I am happy to be corrected on the issue of how much cuddling happens at Princeton’s doctoral program in sociology. People need cuddling.

    Like

    fabiorojas

    April 17, 2014 at 12:30 am

  3. I don’t know anything firsthand about Princeton. But it seems to me that one thing that distinguishes Princeton (and a few other programs) is that there’s a lot of mentoring without the expectation of co-authorship. The faculty invest in students without demanding credit in the form of authorship. This is a model many of us have adopted at Duke. It’s certainly an important principle for me.

    Small programs (like Duke) also have an edge because of the student/faculty ratio. Right now we have about 40 students and 18 faculty. So even given all the frailties of human advisors, at 2:1 we’re likely to be more attentive just mathematically. (And the culture is indeed quite different than the two public schools I’ve experienced.) In a market where publishing is important, having easier access to faculty and enough money not to have to work all the time is an edge.

    That said, it’s important to note that most people at ALL schools (even Princeton!) will NOT go on to elite jobs. But almost all our students finish the PhD at Duke and a significant majority of them have gone on to TT jobs in the past few years. And things will likely get even better in the future.

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    Steve Vaisey

    April 17, 2014 at 12:52 am

  4. Steve pretty much nailed it. This is institutionalized in the form of “the empirical seminar,” which is a mandatory part of the second year curriculum where you write a quantitative journal article under the guidance of a designated faculty member and peer feedback at weekly meetings. It’s very good training wheels for the process of writing a paper, both because there’s a lot of guidance but also because having to present your progress every three weeks means you’re ashamed to slack off and not make rapid progress.

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    gabrielrossman

    April 17, 2014 at 1:18 am

  5. Also Paul keeps a bowl of kibble in his office and click trains the grad students to find the appropriate place in a lit review to put various citations.

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    gabrielrossman

    April 17, 2014 at 1:19 am

  6. Thanks for the insights. I think this should really help other programs who are interested in improving their training program.

    But the larger cultural question remains – Duke and Princeton didn’t always have that culture. What changed? Random variation in faculty? Something else?

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    fabiorojas

    April 17, 2014 at 1:54 am

  7. Also Paul keeps a bowl of kibble in his office and click trains the grad students to find the appropriate place in a lit review to put various citations.

    ….so joking aside, I’m also interested in genuine opinions about how this dynamics affects the state of the field. Obviously, given Fabio’s reference to SJMR and it’s concomitant RSS posting of this blog, there are lots of early-career proto-analytic sociologists reading this. Three mid-career folks have weighed in, so how does the growth of the “empirical seminar” figure? Those positivists among us might suggest that this is *fantastic,* since you’re producing research and moving the field where it always should have gone. Some others–surely atavistic holdovers from earlier days–might say that this dynamic produces just-so quasi-advancements. So what produces the best intellectual innovation for the field as a whole, especially considering, as Steve V notes, that there might be a risk-reward trade-off for individuals in these programs?

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    Bellerophon

    April 17, 2014 at 2:01 am

  8. Bellerophon: The problem with a lot of grad programs isn’t they over produce mainstream at the expense of innovation. The problem (like my time at Chicago) is that you didn’t get trained *at all*. The old style of “they’ll figure it out” is refuted by these examples. Disciplines have mainstreams and, at the very least, you should be able to train for the mainstream. Not doing so is simply incompetence.

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    fabiorojas

    April 17, 2014 at 2:04 am

  9. The problem with a lot of grad programs isn’t they over produce mainstream at the expense of innovation. The problem (like my time at Chicago) is that you didn’t get trained *at all*. The old style of “they’ll figure it out” is refuted by these examples. Disciplines have mainstreams and, at the very least, you should be able to train for the mainstream. Not doing so is simply incompetence.

    …and it is your opinion that this remains an issue at top programs? I confess I don’t know about Chicago, but at the relatively prestigious program I attended, this was simply not the case–you were obligated to understand, if not master, the core aspects of statistical analysis and research design even if you chose to pursue a different track. What other examples are you talking about? Do you really see this as a major problem in the discipline (you used the plural “examples”)? If so, what major contemporary studies express the shortcoming? I agree that refusing to train for a basic dialog with the mainstream is “incompetence,” but where do you think this “incompetence” is actually taking place?

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    Bellerophon

    April 17, 2014 at 2:14 am

  10. It is is very mixed among top programs. At the very least, my alma mater Chicago suffered from this problem. I have seen some reform of the curriculum but they still haven’t adopted the Princeton model. Indiana has strongly moved in the training direction, which accounts for our amazingly strong and consistent placement record since the early 2000s. The old reputation is that Wisconsin had a sink or swim approach as well. If you look at top 20 programs in soc and talk to people (and look at CVs), you see much variation.

    Even though I see this as a problem in some sociology programs,I suspect it is a problem among many disciplines that don’t have a strong core like economics. It is very easy for faculty to slide into a complacent attitude where teaching the core is seen as anti-innovation. Instead, my feeling is that mainstream training is a precondition for innovation because innovation is usually about either improving, modifying or cleverly subverting the mainstream. Also, as Steve pointed out, most people won’t become star elite faculty. They need solid training to be teachers and researchers.

    Liked by 1 person

    fabiorojas

    April 17, 2014 at 2:23 am

  11. …so (and I’m seriously not trying to troll) the view of a healthy ecology for the field is for programs to replicate Princeton’s success? (Despite having very different organizational contexts?) Or, rather, everyone should try to attend Princeton or programs like them?

    “My feeling is that mainstream training is a precondition for innovation because innovation is usually about either improving, modifying or cleverly subverting the mainstream.” Again, at the program I attended, this was the minimum. It’s also the Lakatos-ian position on “engrafting” research programs onto potentially-incompatible predecessors. So Wisconsin and Chicago are the places where they don’t do this?

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    Bellerophon

    April 17, 2014 at 2:32 am

  12. Many of the old-guard, elite schools, like Chicago, are actually trying to redesign their programs to become more like Princeton. They realize that the old model of writing book-like dissertations that never get published anywhere isn’t working.

    I think you could add workshops to the list of things that good programs do. Manuscript workshops, in which grad students and faculty actively work on projects that will hopefully turn into ASR or AJS articles, are even more central to student progress than student-advisor relationships. These workshops seem especially important for departments that have really distinctive training competencies. The best workshops limit their reliance on external speakers and instead aim to give students opportunities to get feedback on their projects and to give feedback on how to write manuscripts for journal articles.

    Like

    brayden king

    April 17, 2014 at 2:49 am

  13. Bellerophon: I don’t think you’re trolling You are asking sensible questions about the mission of graduate education.

    My answer is two fold: Yes, our ecology should mimic Princeton by setting up structures for ensuring that every single person can competently execute mainstream research. No, we should not mimic Princeton by focusing on their version of the mainstream (culture, econ soc, migration). The content of the program should be free to vary – but only after they insure that every one knows the basics. This is independent of context. If you can’t train people to do mainstream work, then what exactly is the point? Even heterodox researchers should have a basic mastery of the mainstream if for no other reason than to be able to understand modal research in their discipline.

    At Chicago, the old system was very anarchic.You had theory and stats, which is good. But then the faculty would teach this first year seminar that had no consistency. One year it was demography, the next it was cultural studies. It was “an intro to my research topic.” Nice if you wanted to work with that person but students would have little inkling of the major projects that defined sociology. Then, there was no “empirical seminar,” no teacher training, and no deadlines for anything. Not surprisingly, people would drift for years. I am not saying that people didn’t consult with students. It was more like the entire system was unstructured, which is very, very bad. At Wisconsin, it seems they also adhere to the “stats, theory and a bunch of electives curriculum” (http://ssc.wisc.edu/soc/grad/degree_req.php) But the reputation is that it could be very hard to get mentoring unless you were actively recruited to a research group. They also had a system of low financial support as well. I’ve been told they are trying to reform that system.

    In other words, universities do vary. Indiana, for example, can’t offer Princeton level funding. But they also should teach the basics.

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    fabiorojas

    April 17, 2014 at 2:50 am

  14. Fabio: well we have hired 3 tenured professors from Princeton in the last 3 years! ;)

    I think at Duke it’s at least somewhat a cohort thing. Unlike many departments that are demographically “top heavy,” most of our faculty are between their mid 30s and early 50s. We may be more attuned to what the market requires than older faculty. But I could be totally wrong about the reasons. I only know things are moving in a particular direction.

    Like

    Steve Vaisey

    April 17, 2014 at 2:55 am

  15. Sure, I don’t think anyone’s debating whether or not a student ought to know (or be trained) in basic debates in the field they seek to inform. I guess I would distinguish between the appropriate place for this: is it in methdological training (seemingly the drift here, at least in comments) or, as Brayden suggests, in substantively-oriented workshops that emphasize publication?

    More broadly, can you say something more about the statistics at Indiana and its placement (and, more precisely, its actual rate of graduate student leak from entry to Ph.D.)? I’m curious for the following reason: another, simple, explanation for the success of Princeton (and Harvard, and Duke, and Columbia, and NYU, and wherever) is a simple one. There are comparatively fewer students-per-famous-faculty, they fund you intensively (sometimes with a research budget!) and faculty intensively and directly supervise the drafting of manuscripts. Seems clear, at least until there’s a clear counterexample of a less resource-intensive (in terms of money and faculty) program that does it simply in terms of intensive training.

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    Bellerophon

    April 17, 2014 at 3:03 am

  16. The internet makes it easy for prospective students to contact enrolled students to find out whether Prof. X is a good advisor or a lousy advisor. As a result, professors at highly ranked schools who aren’t particularly good advisors now get found out, as do professors at mid-tier schools who are good advisors. The cone of uncertainty is a lot smaller. Prospective students can focus more on which advisor they want to work with, and less on the ranking of the school. As a result, mid-tier schools with good advisors get a leg up.

    Of course, the internet also makes it easier for professors to analyze who is getting hired where, and what skills and topics are gaining attention. So it’s easier for programs to develop seminars that train students in skills that are trending upward. Departments that take advantage of this information probably do better in the long run.

    Naturally, there are many other factors out there, so I’m not trying to offer a complete explanation. But if you read How to Apply to Graduate School Without Really Lying (a truly underappreciated book on reputation management and the Goffmanian stage of academia), which was published in 1980, you might get a sense of how this stuff matters.

    Like

    CM

    April 17, 2014 at 3:23 am

  17. 1. It’s both. You need methods and you need to understand the intellectual structure of the field. And you need professionalization. It’s all of the above.

    2. I have never been Grad Chair, but the basic story is that the PhD completion rate is typical (about 50%) but the placement rate is phenomenal conditional on reaching the end.

    We leak because we pay poorly and we are located in a small town. What we excel in preparing people for the profession and helping them in the market. And we help ALL students, not just the one’s gunning for R1. In the last two years, we’ve placed at Columbia/Teachers, Dartmouth’s computational institute, Emory, Texas-Austin, Charlotte, British Columbia, Wyoming, Evansville, Grinell, and Butler. About three years back, we were placing at Miss State, Maryland, Penn state-Altoona, Knox, IU Northwest, and other places. And I’ve left out people I don’t directly work with. And, at this very moment, people are still interviewing at some excellent places.

    It is possible to be resource poor like Indiana and excel but it is hard to pull off. We only pull it off because we do things many programs find hard to do. We have a teacher prep program. We have a very intensive paper seminar. We have a research practicum experience. We have an informal culture of support. We are also insanely mainstream. It didn’t happen overnight, but we’ve developed the structure to be a top 20 program on the budget of a more modest program.

    Like

    fabiorojas

    April 17, 2014 at 3:31 am

  18. Interesting conversation – thanks for starting it, Fabio! I share Bellerophon’s concern that isomorphism is not necessarily the best approach; just because Princeton is very successful (granted!) doesn’t mean everyone should adopt that model. There are at least two other very successful models: the IU/Penn State/UNC model (close collaboration, lots of workshops, emphasis on what Fabio calls “mainstream” over early innovation) and the Berkeley/old Chicago model (provide an unbelievably rich intellectual environment and tell students to come back for their degrees when they’ve done some sociology — exaggerating of course, but not entirely!). As is my style in general, I think intellectual diversity is more important than copying the program-of-the-month, so I think it’s important to recognize the different origins of success and how they might fit with individual students’ intellectual and professional ambitions.

    The other thing to note in Fabio’s discussion of transition is cash. Over the past 20 years virtually all the major publics have experienced huge financial pressures (Berkeley, UCLA, Wisconsin, Michigan, IU, UNC, Penn State) and those aren’t going away anytime soon: low faculty salaries, low grad student stipends, no prospects of significant raises, poor “slush” budgets for colloquia, travel, etc. If I were NYU or Dook I’d be salivating too, and kudos to them for taking the opportunity! In the long term I think this is bad for all of us, of course, since there’s no way the privates can scale to the sheer size and coverage of the big publics (both within sociology and across disciplines).

    Like

    andrewperrin

    April 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

  19. This conversation has been incredibly enlightening, and I’m grateful. I share a lot of these thoughts. But I think we may be understating the importance of self-selection here in the success of particular programs. Granted the Princeton model of training seems incredibly effective, but there’s a Matthew effect here, right? They’re also getting the cream of the crop students. Same reason Harvard and Berkeley do well, despite *not* applying the P-ton model.

    I’d predict that even if Duke is able to lure every faculty member from P-ton and fully replicate that model of graduate education, the results still wouldn’t be as good because Duke won’t land the students that P-ton does. Nothing against Duke at all.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather have the collaborative/mentoring/workshop model compared to the “here’s your stipend, now go figure it out” model any day. But ultimately, do smart, motivated, resilient people find their way regardless?

    Like

    anonymous

    April 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm

  20. Anon: you’re right that selection is a huge part of the story. I’d even go so far as to say it’s 80% or more of the story in “placements” (a truly horrible metaphor since it puts the agency on the department alone). But Princeton wasn’t #1 (or even close) 10-15 years ago. Hiring faculty aggressively and changing the program can change rankings and, as a consequence, also change the dynamics of selection. Princeton is the best case in point.

    Like

    Steve Vaisey

    April 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm

  21. Sure there’s a Matthew effect, but the field is also dynamic on several dimensions. Faculty move and age, new ideas become the focus of attention, incoming people are attracted to newer research programs, ideas, or people, and so on. Given the unpredictable nature of intellectual work, and the sources of innovative ideas, this can happen in places that aren’t right at the top of the pile at any particular moment, notwithstanding the fact that the top places really are great and stuffed with talent. Status matters a lot, but fields change, too, and so do the places where the action is—or the resources, for other reasons that Fabio and Andy emphasized. And of course that’s what Princeton itself did, beginning in the very early 1990s after a long fallow period where few faculty were actively working with graduate students. It took them about a decade to really get rolling, and it was a multi-stage process involving hiring some great people, supporting and tenuring them, and then reproducing itself externally by training and placing graduate students. Over time word got around and the Matthew-effect kicked in as e.g. prospective students learned that Princeton was really moving up, or the best place to be. But over the long run the field is not fixed, and other departments have revivified themselves in similar ways, at different times. So it’s not irrational for places to try to replicate that.

    Like

    Kieran

    April 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

  22. I agree that selection effects are much greater than zero, but >80% seems like an excessively high estimate, particularly after this discussion about how mentorship and program design matter. For example, a couple of departments that I’m aware of – Stanford and Chicago – underachieve with placements relative to their selectivity.

    Like

    Prussian

    April 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm

  23. Prussian: 80% may be (somewhat) too high, but it’s my rhetorical way of fighting against the silly metaphor of “placement.” Some people talk as though they enter grad school as a blank widget that becomes infused with the “placement” probability distribution of their school.

    Even if the program/culture/etc. accounted for only 20% that would still be huge. More than enough to shift the selection dynamics down the road.

    Like

    Steve Vaisey

    April 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

  24. I think the conversation has splintered into two different levels: (1) departmental strategy, about how different places climb the rankings in different ways given the current resource/intellectual/performative-reflexive relationship some students now have to THE RANKINGS, etc.; and (2) the “best” general education for students regardless of this terrain and the effects of this strategy on the overall shape of sociology and its intellectual production.

    I guess I find the relationship between these two strains far less obvious than Kieran, Fabio, and Steve. I infer from their comments that a department’s pursuit of its boundedly-rational “best” strategy for climbing the rankings produces the best (“insanely mainstream”?) outcome for sociology. Yet this might also produce perverse/deleterious outcomes as a whole, especially considering that sociology is multi-method and multi-paradigmatic. I might also suggest that this latter issue is more difficult to discuss at this level because it’s also much harder to measure and analyze quantitatively.

    Anyway, I think there’s actually a lot of consensus here. Several private schools *have* climbed into elite ranks, and Princeton surely is moving towards a hegemonic position for certain kinds of sociology. Almost all programs I know of (including the old creaky ones that people like to denigrate as lumbering dinosaurs) train the disciplinary mainstream pretty effectively (under the flag of “you must learn the rules before you break them”). That being said, many programs lack the resources to replicate what the privates are able to do. (As Fabio notes, the needle a public needs to thread to replicate Princeton’s success is much smaller–and debatably comes at the steep intellectual cost of being “ridiculously mainstream.”) So for two reasons, we might more seriously ponder whether a multi-model version of the field as a whole is a better overall way forward–(1) alternative models might be able to widen the needle departments have to thread to be “successful”; and (2) this would preserve non-mainstream centers of intellectual production at the elite level.

    (Finally, an aside: Kieran is quite right that the field is dynamic along multiple dimensions, but something no one has really touched on is that the Princeton model has its own internal stresses and shelf-life that might soon come to a head. To some extent, their placement success–especially at competitive programs–is predicated on impressively churning out prestigious publications as graduate students and getting through their program pretty quickly. However, you could now run a search literally anywhere and fill your long list with AJS/ASR pubs, so how long until they’re relatively less distinguishing and committees push to something else? [I think there’s already some evidence of that happening–at least at highly competitive jobs–at least somewhat on this year’s market.] That kind of arms race only works so long, and programs trying to follow it now won’t have much to do other than clean up after the party…)

    Like

    Bellerophon

    April 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm

  25. I infer from their comments that a department’s pursuit of its boundedly-rational “best” strategy for climbing the rankings produces the best (“insanely mainstream”?) outcome for sociology.

    I don’t think this is quite right—I think wider shifts in the field change what counts as mainstream, innovative, or old-fashioned research, and departments can capitalize (perhaps semi-accidentally) on that. Princeton rode the wave of sociology of culture and economic sociology, for example. That was less about searching for the “insanely mainstream” and more about successfully seeing where things were going.

    To some extent, their placement success–especially at competitive programs–is predicated on impressively churning out prestigious publications as graduate students … you could now run a search literally anywhere and fill your long list with AJS/ASR pubs … That kind of arms race only works so long

    Yeah, I agree—this is a separate phenomenon from departments trying to scramble up, but it affects them for the reasons you give. I’d speculate that it happened precisely because sociology is “multi-method and multi-paradigmatic”. In a field setting where the basis of quality assessments is somewhat fragmented (by comparison to e.g. Economics or Philosophy), and where the job market cannot function as much through direct personal networks as it once did, placing papers in high-status journals becomes the publicly acceptable proxy for quality. This triggers intense competition amongst students for publications in those outlets. In turn it probably pushes students towards a certain kind of publication type (and incidentally makes editors very powerful). But the underlying drive to make direct and substantive quality judgments never goes away in academia, because that’s what disciplines basically do. So people begin first to complain about generic overproduction due to hothousing or MPU-ism, and then to decry boring papers in leading journals and so on—and perhaps also react against a situation where a few key journals have so much influence over the form publications take, as we’ve seen with Sociological Science, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    Kieran

    April 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm

  26. That was less about searching for the “insanely mainstream” and more about successfully seeing where things were going.

    I agree with that analysis in Princeton’s case, but the point is that if it’s a model to emulate (particularly in Fabio’s analysis of Indiana’s success), the distinctive variable I saw in this list:

    It is possible to be resource poor like Indiana and excel but it is hard to pull off. We only pull it off because we do things many programs find hard to do. We have a teacher prep program. We have a very intensive paper seminar. We have a research practicum experience. We have an informal culture of support. We are also insanely mainstream.

    Is “we are also insanely mainstream.”

    And yeah, I basically agree with your analysis about journals/prestige. I think you’re right that the pendulum is going to swing back against spamming top journals (easier to pick up when you have informal access to “what makes a good” AJS/ASR/Demography/Ethnography/whatever from famous-person-willing-to-closely-read-your-work-and-let-you-read-their-drafts). From some direct personal experience, this has reached an unhealthy place where people are now worrying about how to slice the bologna just thick enough that it can stand as an independent AJS/ASR, while thin enough to get multiple pubs and look as good as possible. If you ask the people doing this why they’re doing it, the answer is that (from their perception/what they’ve been told), people even at major places seem to read files less and less closely and instead look for easily commensurable markers of quality.

    The only thing I’d say here–and it’s more a caution than critique–is that this whole discussion began as a description of a shift in the status hierarchy of departments driven by how they organize their graduate programs. It then shifted quite rapidly into a prescription about how departments ought to reorganize themselves (with some embedded criticisms of programs that don’t follow this description of what made Princeton, Duke, etc., successful.) It’s very easy to slide back and forth between these two things (it lets us invoke our experience, directly knowledge, and opinions about where the field should go), and perhaps its appropriate to musing on a blog, but it’s not the same thing.

    Speaking of musing on blogs, I am contractually obligated by my B.A. from an ACC institution to note that your basketball coach at Duke looks a lot like Count Chocula.

    Like

    Bellerophon

    April 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm

  27. Responding to Fabio’s original question, I think the core of the answer is simple.

    First, the advantages of scale for your own research have declined. It is less helpful being physically surrounded by smart colleagues who can react to your papers and give you methodological advice than it used to be. There is less institutional grant money to support big collections of scholars in pop centers and whatnot. And you don’t need collective resources as much as you used to in order to do survey-based research. So, the big midwestern departments don’t have the holding power that they once did.

    Second, many private universities were slow to react to student demand in the social sciences at the undergraduate level. They first invested in economics and and political science and then turned to sociology in 1990s as endowments ballooned (and the bloom was off of post-modernism, making further investments in romance studies, etc., seem wasteful). They preserved the budgets during the financial crisis, while many big publics have been hurt.

    Third, philanthropy. This is not as public as the other factors, of course, but is hugely important in getting senior people to move. Endowed chairs are essential for recruitment of top people, and off-the-budget cash is required to put together start-up packages that are hard to turn down. Publics just don’t have the access, or the tradition, of calling in cash from the deep pockets on the board of trustees to make things happen.

    There are of course particular institutional stories. The rumor on Princeton is some combination of huge amounts of available cash and Paul DiMaggio doing a great job of capturing lines for joint appointments (at a time when Princeton was doubting the value in giving all its joint appointments to postmodernists in its humanities departments). I don’t know if this story is true. In other case, departments get special goods out of a favorable dean, sometimes based on the tastes of deans and sometimes based on personal ties to the department’s chair. I assume that is the Duke and NYU story of today, since one would not have predicted their effective hiring ten years ago. This is certainly the story that injected resources into Yale and Cornell in the late 1990s. Other places just have a tradition and have kept humming along and slightly upgrading: that is Northwestern.

    I think the puzzle is the rise of places like UCLA relative to Wisconsin and North Carolina, and UT Austin relative to Indiana.

    Like

    Someone from the "older faculty," at Fabio's request

    April 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm

  28. Amendment: Insert “Viviana Zelizer and Paul DiMaggio” for “Paul DiMaggio”

    Like

    Someone from the "older faculty," at Fabio's request (again)

    April 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm

  29. I assume hothousing refers to training grad students in narrow areas so that they can churn out competent variations on a theme. However, I am lost on “MPU-ism.”

    Like

    definition please

    April 18, 2014 at 9:45 pm

  30. MPU=minimum publishable unit. Breaking research up into tiny bits to maximize the number of publications.

    Like

    olderwoman

    April 18, 2014 at 10:21 pm

  31. MPU=salami slicing

    Like

    Guillermo

    April 19, 2014 at 12:31 am

  32. The gaming of the business of sociology…

    Like

    Hector

    April 21, 2014 at 11:24 am


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