some of us are brave

A Reading List (By Request)

I have promised about a dozen people that I have a list of reading for the work I attempt to do. That work is at the intersection of education, organizations, and inequality. It’s what I would call critical org theory, if I were so allowed. Basically, I argue that organizational characteristics — like their profit status — of educational institutions are responses to stratification in things like access to childcare or white collar jobs and those responses reproduce inequality like low wages, downward social mobility, and segregation in certain types of jobs.

Because very few people have done an organizational level analysis of higher education and even fewer people examine how organizations reproduce inequality, I have a very tough job of it with my literature reviews. I am constantly trying to pull relevant theoretical threads  from their positions squarely in disciplinary conversations and weave them into new theoretical narratives. I probably fail, a lot.

Regardless, this is the stuff I would recommend interested nerds read to try to understand how for-profit college models interact with social inequality through organizational mechanisms. It’s not annotated but I may get around to that in the future. To be honest, my annotated bibs are conversations with myself and they include lots of inappropriate statements like “yeah right” and “well, he’s obviously on crack”. They aren’t fit for public consumption.

For now, if you read nothing else read Kinser for history, Chung for what I consider the best nuts and bolts of quantitative data on for-profit students, Deming et al for the standard economic approach, Vedder for sector cheerleader perspectives, Acker for why organizations matter to inequality, Stevens for an idea of how these processes work at the top of the prestige hierarchy and, frankly, all of my posts and writings for the counter-position of for-profit colleges as a social process.


Higher Education and College Admissions as Site of Reproduction

Bowles, Samuel, and Herbert Gintis. Schooling in capitalist America: Educational reform and the contradictions of economic life. Basic Books, 1977.

Brown, David K. “The social sources of educational credentialism: Status cultures, labor markets, and organizations.” Sociology of Education (2001): 19-34.

Collins, Randall. The credential society: An historical sociology of education and stratification. New York: Academic Press, 1979.

Grodsky, Eric, and Catherine Riegle-Crumb. “Those who choose and those who don’t: Social background and college orientation.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 627, no. 1 (2010): 14-35.

Grubb, W. Norton, and Marvin Lazerson. The education gospel: The economic power of schooling. Harvard University Press, 2009.

Karabel, Jerome. The chosen: The hidden history of admission and exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Mariner Books, 2006.

McDonough, Patricia M. Choosing colleges: How social class and schools structure opportunity. Suny Press, 1997.

Mullen, Ann L. Degrees of inequality: Culture, class, and gender in American higher education. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

Stevens, Mitchell L., Elizabeth A. Armstrong, and Richard Arum. “Sieve, incubator, temple, hub: Empirical and theoretical advances in the sociology of higher education.” Annu. Rev. Sociol 34 (2008): 127-151.

Stevens, Mitchell L. Creating a class: College admissions and the education of elites. Harvard University Press, 2009.

For-Profit Colleges

Bailey, T., Badway, N., & Gumport, P.J. (2001). For-profit higher education and community colleges. U.S. DOE Report WP-08-07). Retrieved from Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research

Bennett, Daniel L., Adam R. Lucchesi, and Richard K. Vedder. “For-Profit Higher Education: Growth, Innovation and Regulation.” Center for College Affordability and Productivity (2010).

Cellini, Stephanie Riegg, and Claudia Goldin. Does federal student aid raise tuition? New evidence on for-profit colleges. No. w17827. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2012.

Chung, Anna S. “Choice of for-profit college.” Economics of Education Review (2012).

Deming, David J., Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F. Katz. The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?. No. w17710. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2011.

IHEP, “New Classification Scheme for For-Profit Colleges”. Institute of Higher Education Policy. 2012.

James, Osamudia. “Predatory Ed: The Conflict Between Public Good and For-Profit Higher Education.” Journal of College and University Law 38, no. 1 (2011): 47.

Kinser, Kevin. From Main Street to Wall Street: The transformation of for-profit higher education. Vol. 31. Jossey-Bass Inc Pub, 2006.

Oseguera, Leticia, and Maria C. Malagon. “For-Profit Colleges and Universities and the Latina/o Students Who Enroll in Them.” Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 10, no. 1 (2011): 66-91.

Organizational Mechanisms and Inequality

Acker, Joan. “Inequality regimes gender, class, and race in organizations.” Gender & Society 20, no. 4 (2006): 441-464.

Britton, Dana M. At work in the iron cage: The prison as gendered organization. NYU Press, 2003.


Goldrick-Rab, Sara, and Christopher Mazzeo. “What no child left behind means for college access.” Review of Research in Education 29 (2005): 107-129.

Heyneman, Stephen P., and William A. Loxley. “The effect of primary-school quality on academic achievement across twenty-nine high-and low-income countries.” American Journal of sociology (1983): 1162-1194.

Institute Higher Education Policy (June, 2011). Portraits: Initial college attendance of low-income young adults. Washington, DC: IHEP

Lareau, Annette. 2002. “Invisible Inequality: Social Class and Childrearing in Black Families and White Families.” American Sociological Review 67:747-76.

Massey, Douglas S. and Nancy A. Denton. 1993. American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (Chapters 1,2,4,6).

New York Times. September 11, 2012. Schools Look to Weed Out Nonresidents. Retrieved from

Peterson, Janice, Xue Song, and Avis Jones-DeWeever. Life after welfare reform: Low-income single parent families, pre-and post-TANF. Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2002.

IHEP, “New Classification Scheme for For-Profit Colleges”. Institute of Higher Education Policy. 2012.


2 comments on “A Reading List (By Request)

  1. Jennifer
    July 1, 2013

    Yes, thank you so very much! My own reading lists are pages and pages long. This is invaluable in providing me with a starting point.

  2. tehgay
    June 30, 2013

    Thank you very much for this!

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