tressiemc

some of us are brave

Research

My research examines organizations, race, and inequality. My current project on for-profit colleges, race, gender, and class contributes to a growing literature on stratification and higher education. I examine the stratified processes that deliver the most vulnerable students into the most expensive, least prestigious, and most contested sector of higher education. Future interests include a comparative organizational study of education and work-life benefits and a discourse analysis of the construction of racism in new media. I teach stratification, sociology of education, race/ethnicity and research methods at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Organizations

“Why Do Students Choose For-Profit Colleges?: Credential-Seeking Logics, Structured Motivation, and Self-Selection into For-Profit Higher Education (Under Review)

Why do low-status students choose expensive, low prestige for-profit colleges? This paper proposes a theoretical framework of credential-seeking logics and embedded motivation to resolve empirical and theoretical tensions in the literature on for-profit college expansion. The multiphase qualitative study finds that credential-seeking logics are generated by social location. For-profit college enrollment benefits when their embedded motivation logic matches students’ credential-seeking logic.

Selling and Enrolling: Legitimacy and Personnel Filtering in For-Profit Colleges

Who leads for-profit colleges? And, are the filtering mechanisms different from those in traditional higher education leadership? Using an organizational ecology framework, I assess the required skills and credentials for admissions representatives in not-for-profit and for-profit colleges using an online employment database for the higher education sector. I find distinct preferences for business-to-business sales in the for-profit personnel filtering as opposed to an emphasis on acculturation to traditional college culture vis-a-vis possessing an advanced degree in admissions roles at not-for-profit colleges. I include a discussion of the educational biographies of for-profit sector executive leaders and what these patterns signal for institutional legitimacy of for-profit colleges in an institutional field dominated by traditional college norms.

Rationalization of Higher Education” Lead author with Gaye Tuchman. In Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Forthcoming) eds. Robert A. Scott and Stephen M. Kosslyn.

This paper reviews the landscape of higher education in the U.S. through neo-institutional frameworks of rationalization and corporatization. We argue that means-end schema and bureaucratic organization have become ever more dominant as the authority over academic matters has been shifting from the professoriate to managers. Conceptualizing the higher education institutional field as a spectrum with public, not-for-profit higher education and privatized, for-profit higher education poles facilitates a range of empirical observations obscured by discrete categorical classifications of “sectors”. We propose a robust research agenda to exploit the quasi-experimental potential of the rationalized university under these conditions.

Mitigating Concerns And Maximizing Returns: Social Media Strategies For Injury Prevention Non-Profits (In Press)

Injury prevention programs can use social media to disseminate information and recruit participants. Non-profit organizations have also used social media for fundraising and donor relationship management. Non-profit organizations (NPOs) with injury prevention missions often serve vulnerable populations. Social media platforms have varied levels of access and control of shared content. This variability can present privacy and outreach challenges that are of particular concern for injury prevention NPOs. I use data from a series of four state-wide social media training sessions I conducted over three months in 2013 in Georgia. Workshop participants represented NPOs that had received grant support from a state agency. They included a range of organizational roles from non-profits broadly engaged in domestic violence and injury prevention services. I present strategies for object messaging, social media protocols, and responsibility diffusion to maximize the potential of social media while minimizing risk to participants and organizations.

A New Classification Scheme for For-Profit Institutions

Inequality

Articles of Faith and Crucibles of Choice: Credential-Seeking Logics and For-Profit College Enrollment in the Matrix of Domination (Under Review)

African Americans and women are over-represented in for-profit college enrollment. This qualitative study of black and white women enrolled in for-profit colleges finds that gendered and racialized social locations define specific credential-seeking logics differently by race and class.

Education Assembly Line: The Trouble With For-Profits

Lead editor (with William Darity Jr.) of “ForProfit U: Profit, Stratification and the Future of For-Profit Colleges and Universities in U.S. Higher Education”. Forthcoming from AERA Publications.

Culture

Reading Hick-Hop: The Shotgun Marriage of Hip Hop and Country Music

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