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Creators/Authors contains: "Stevens, Mitchell L."

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  1. Abstract

    The massive expansion of US higher education after World War II is a sociological puzzle: a spectacular feat of state capacity-building in a highly federated polity. Prior scholarship names academic leaders as key drivers of this expansion, yet the conditions for the possibility and fate of their activity remain under-specified. We fill this gap by theorizing what Randall Collins first callededucational entrepreneurshipas a special kind of strategic action in the US polity. We argue that the cultural authority and organizational centrality of universities in the US national context combine with historical contingency to episodically produce conditions under which academic credentials can be made viable solutions to social problems. We put our theorization to the test by revisiting and extending a paradigmatic case: the expansion of engineering education at Stanford University between 1945 and 1969. Invoking several contemporaneous and subsequent cases, we demonstrate the promise of theorizing educational expansion as an outcome of strategic action by specifically located actors over time.

     
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