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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Attitudes toward Professors and Social Status

 Sam Abrams at Heterodox Academy:

One surprising finding, however, involves the American professoriate; a centuries old institution responsible for educating and developing so many minds around the nation. The Survey Center on American Life’s American Community and Civic Life Survey reveals that Americans have greater confidence in America’s professors than religious leadership; the news media; state, local, and federal government ...Specifically, when asked if Americans had much confidence in college and university professors acting in the best interests of the public, overall 57% replied in the affirmative – this includes those who had a great deal (8%) and a fair amount (49%) of confidence in faculty.

 However, when broken down by ideology the picture looks appreciably different. Only 38% of Republicans and leaners and just 41% of independents and undecideds have confidence in faculty to do the right thing. In contrast, almost three-quarters of Democrats (74%) have confidence in our nation’s faculty. There are minimal differences in terms of household income; career lines of respondents also only marginally impact these figures. 

Thomas Edsall at NYT:

Peter Hall, a professor of government at Harvard, wrote by email that he and a colleague, Noam Gidron, a professor of political science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, have found that
across the developed democracies, the lower people feel their social status is, the more inclined they are to vote for anti-establishment parties or candidates on the radical right or radical left.
Those drawn to the left, Hall wrote in an email, come from the top and bottom of the social order:
People who start out near the bottom of the social ladder seem to gravitate toward the radical left, perhaps because its program offers them the most obvious economic redress; and people near the top of the social ladder often also embrace the radical left, perhaps because they share its values.
In contrast, Hall continued,
The people most often drawn to the appeals of right-wing populist politicians... tend to be those who sit several rungs up the socioeconomic ladder in terms of their income or occupation. My conjecture is that it is people in this kind of social position who are most susceptible to what Barbara Ehrenreich called a “fear of falling” — namely, anxiety, in the face of an economic or cultural shock, that they might fall further down the social ladder,” a phenomenon often described as “last place aversion.