I have a hankering for tying credentials to labor market processes and social policy.
There, I said it. The cat is out of the bag. I’m just crazy enough to try to update a 50 year old literature on status competition and institutionalism with a focus on inequality.
In a sign that I may, indeed, be a secret member of the radical left, UC-Davis’ Center for Poverty Research has extended me an invitation to work at the Center as a Visiting Graduate Fellow.
I will spend the session fleshing out the connection between policy and the organizational responses to structural change. That joins my proposed dissertation chapters on the social history of for-profit higher education and the challenges of prestige and legitimacy to social mobility and credentialism. Or, at least, that’s what I told the fine folks at UC-Davis.
The project is called, “Profit, Poverty, and Policy: Are For-Profit Colleges Commodifying Poverty or Providing Pathways out of Poverty?” My qualitative research and field work makes a case for the connection between social inequality and the expansion of the for-profit college sector. I’m hoping to corroborate those findings with empirical evidence about that connection at the structural level.
I’m following my hunch about changes to the Personal Responsibility and Welfare Act in 1996 (which specifically classified “short term credentials” as a means of remaining eligible for welfare) and the dominance of for-profits in both sub-baccalaureate credentials and gendered/racialized labor roles in allied health care and administrative level work. I also ask if there is a price threshold for the mobility utility of a credential and if that price threshold is positional: different for different kinds of folks. The end result is a policy paper and, hopefully, a new dimension to my own research.