Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Credentialling Crises Continue

I have made reference at times to the credentialing crises.  A term popularized by  Jack Goldstone This crises has been a recurring one at times of economic stress when the upper and middle portions of society are finding fewer opportunities and thus begin fighting for the societal positions available.  These battles are a recurring part of price cycle caused by population expansion, and were particularly notable in pre-industrial societies.
However, these credentialing crises are still occurring today.
The following quotes are from:
American Sociological Review 1971, Vol. 36 (December):1002-1019
IMO the teaching of status, culture, etc. within schools is one of the overt goals of our education system.  However, one of the other primary goals is as a signaling tool.  It signals a certain competency level, but it also signals a willingness to participate within the system: to become part of the club.   Much as hazing rituals are part of the socializing process of fraternities and sororities.  Business and Law schools become part of the hazing process for entry within those societies.
Educational requirements for employment have become increasingly widespread, not only in elite occupations but also at the bottom of the occupational hierarchy…. In a 1967 survey of the San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose areas (Collins, 1969), 17% of the employers surveyed required at least a high school diploma for employment in even unskilled positions; a national survey (Bell, 1940) in 1937-1938 found a comparable figure of 1%.
At the same time, educational requirements appear to have become more specialized, with 38% of the organizations in the 1967 survey which required college degrees of managers preferring business administration training, and an additional 15% preferring engineering training; such requirements appear to have been virtually unknown in the 1920s (Pierson, 1959:34-54).
The main activity of schools is to teach particular status cultures, both in and outside the classroom.  In this light, any failure of schools to impart technical knowledge (although it may also be successful in this) is not important; schools primarily teach vocabulary and inflection, styles of dress, aesthetic tastes, values and manners.
People who go to these go to Law or Business schools are well reminded that their primary importance is as networking tools.  It is often very difficult to show that there much relevance of what they teach to the actual practice of their profession.  There is a whole blog  that discusses  the  "Law School Scam".   So getting a law degree is no longer even a sufficient (necessary- yes, sufficient- no) condition for starting a law career.

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