Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Degrees of Inequality

Degrees of Inequality

Culture, Class, and Gender in American Higher Education

Ann L. Mullen

Publication Date
Binding Type

2011 Educator's Award. Delta Kappa Gamma Society International

2011 Outstanding Publication in Postsecondary Education, American Educational Research Association, Division J

Degrees of Inequality reveals the powerful patterns of social inequality in American higher education by analyzing how the social background of students shapes nearly every facet of the college experience.

Even as the most prestigious institutions claim to open their doors to students from diverse backgrounds, class disparities remain. Just two miles apart stand two institutions that represent the stark class contrast in...

2011 Educator's Award. Delta Kappa Gamma Society International

2011 Outstanding Publication in Postsecondary Education, American Educational Research Association, Division J

Degrees of Inequality reveals the powerful patterns of social inequality in American higher education by analyzing how the social background of students shapes nearly every facet of the college experience.

Even as the most prestigious institutions claim to open their doors to students from diverse backgrounds, class disparities remain. Just two miles apart stand two institutions that represent the stark class contrast in American higher education. Yale, an elite Ivy League university, boasts accomplished alumni, including national and world leaders in business and politics. Southern Connecticut State University graduates mostly commuter students seeking credential degrees in fields with good job prospects.

Ann L. Mullen interviewed students from both universities and found that their college choices and experiences were strongly linked to social background and gender. Yale students, most having generations of family members with college degrees, are encouraged to approach their college years as an opportunity for intellectual and personal enrichment. Southern students, however, perceive a college degree as a path to a better career, and many work full- or part-time jobs to help fund their education.

Moving interviews with 100 students at the two institutions highlight how American higher education reinforces the same inequities it has been aiming to transcend.

Reviews

Reviews

In this finely crafted qualitative study of the factors that lead to social stratification between institutions of higher education, Mullen demonstrates that the meaning of a college degree varies for different kinds of students at different kinds of institutions... An important and challenging work.

This well-written and well-conceptualized book improves knowledge of how advantages in social background cumulate over time to produce continued stratification in college-related experiences and outcomes... The theoretical and research-based insights generated by this book provide a useful foundation for education researchers as well as for public and institutional policy makers who seek productive approaches to reducing differences in higher education outcomes based on social background.

Paints a vivid and disturbing picture of the growing class divide in American higher education.

Mullen addresses a lacuna in the evidence base: students' perspectives on their place in the hierarchy, and how they choose a university.

By comparing the experiences of students at institutions only a few miles but worlds apart, Ann Mullen underscores how American higher education perpetuates inequalities in the social order.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
264
ISBN
9781421405742
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Yale and Southern
2. The High School Years
3. Dedicing to Go to College
4. Choosing Colleges
5. Going to College
6. Majors and Knowledge
Conclusion
Note on Methodology
Bibliograp

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Yale and Southern
2. The High School Years
3. Dedicing to Go to College
4. Choosing Colleges
5. Going to College
6. Majors and Knowledge
Conclusion
Note on Methodology
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Ann L. Mullen
Featured Contributor

Ann L. Mullen

Ann L. Mullen is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.