Those Liberal Academics

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University professors are so liberal. This has long been an established, and even occasionally proven, stereotype. Well now we have an idea why. According to an article in the New York Times:

A pair of sociologists think they may have an answer: typecasting. Conjure up the classic image of a humanities or social sciences professor, the fields where the imbalance is greatest: tweed jacket, pipe, nerdy, longwinded, secular — and liberal. Even though that may be an outdated stereotype, it influences younger people’s ideas about what they want to be when they grow up.

It’s not that being a professor makes you liberal; it’s that being a liberal makes you a professor. Or something. According to the study:

In particular, we found that professors are more liberal than other Americans because a higher proportion have advanced educational credentials, exhibit a disparity between their levels of education and income, have distinctive religious profiles, and express greater tolerance for controversial ideas. We then outlined a new theory of professorial liberalism based on our findings that links occupational reputation with individual aspirations.

Nice to have all that cleared up. The study ends with a very common recommendation in academic studies: more research on this issue is needed. Maybe. It seems that a more interesting study might take this issue in a new direction, however; why doesn’t all this liberal indoctrination ever seem to work?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer