The illusion of upward mobility in higher education


By Amos Dewy, Red Phoenix correspondent, Georgia.

Higher education has long been considered the pathway to upward mobility and class advancement in the United States. Of course, this is a lie perpetuated by the bourgeoisie. Recent research from the journal Nature Human Behaviour shows the extent to which this fantasy is false, and the extent to which the system of higher education has devolved into an institution intended to subjugate the masses and further strengthen the class divide. Universities are systems maintained and upheld by the wealthy for the wealthy, while they portray a narrative of egalitarianism.

Professors are expected to be altruistic mentors and teachers. However, these intellectuals are disproportionately composed of people from privileged socioeconomic backgrounds. What follows is a class analysis of higher education that focuses on the implications of a professorial class that is rooted in wealth privilege.

According to recent research, faculty members are 25 times more likely to have a parent with a PhD than a population of non faculty members. This nearly doubles for faculty in more elite institutions. These numbers suggest the professorial class is composed of mostly class privileged elites, and that efforts to diversify the professoriate will be difficult because their class interest will be to preserve the purity of their ranks.

One of the reasons that this is the case has to do with social networks. The rich help the rich, and they maintain their power by halting attempts by the working class to enter their ranks. Research shows that social networking plays a huge role in academic hiring decisions, and one benefit of a privileged economic status includes access to more influential social networks. The elite also have access to more material resources that help them succeed in the world of academia, such as higher quality education and regular financial support.

Privileges of wealth and access inevitably impact the research of these faculty researchers and scholars. The essay in Nature Human Behavior mentions previous research that scholarship from those who are from a higher socioeconomic background tend to produce more conservative research that rarely attempts to disrupt the status quo. This is primarily due to the fact that they benefit from the status quo and the systems in society that are already in place. There is very little incentive for such people to disrupt a system that brings them comfort, and so they succumb to confirmation bias. Also, these scholars lack the diverse experience and perspectives from the working class, limiting the scope of their knowledge. Their narrow world view perpetuates itself in their teaching and research.

Efforts to diversify the professoriate are difficult. The system is built on a pathway that necessitates financial support and social networking. These prerequisites close the gates on most of the working class before any member can begin in earnest. They have built the system to only be easily accessible to the elite. Then, those entitled few are rewarded with positions to perpetuate the system and stifle attempts of the working class to advance towards their ranks.

The mere fact that these institutions of higher education are filled with capital elites should not be shocking. These class manipulators have created a perfectly oiled machine. The machine provides a narrative of false hope for the masses of the working class. These schools cleverly saddle the proletarian students with debt, further stifling their academic goals. They also produce research and teaching that upholds the capitalist systems that are already in place, and they cultivate new generations of privileged academics to replenish their ranks, even with such simple tactics as nepotism. Institutions of higher education are becoming more focused on perpetuating capitalism than perpetuating knowledge.

Categories: Education, U.S. News, Workers Struggle

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