Today I am posting a piece I wrote in 1995. It was the foreword to a book by David K. Brown, Degrees of Control: A Sociology of Educational Expansion and Occupational Credentialism. I have long been interested in credentialing theory, but this is the only place where I ever tried to spell out in detail … Continue reading How Credentialing Theory Explains the Extraordinary Growth in US Higher Ed in the 19th Century
Month: June 2020
A Brutal Review of My First Book
In the last two weeks, I've presented some my favorite brutal book reviews. It's a lot of fun to watch a skilled writer skewer someone else's work with surgical precision (see here and my last post). In the interest of balance, I thought it would be right and proper to present a review that eviscerates … Continue reading A Brutal Review of My First Book
Panicking vs. Choking: The Different Ways that Amateurs and Professionals Fail
Professionals, by definition, are more skilled than amateurs in any given field, but they both experience failure. And to an average observer, they appear to fail in similar ways. The practitioner is moving along nicely in carrying out his or her craft -- and then suddenly it all falls apart. The golf ball flies off … Continue reading Panicking vs. Choking: The Different Ways that Amateurs and Professionals Fail
The Lust for Academic Fame: America’s Engine for Scholarly Production
This post is an analysis of the engine for scholarly production in American higher education. The issue is that the university is a unique work setting in which the usual organizational incentives don't apply. Administrators can't offer much in the way of power and money as rewards for productive faculty and they also can't do … Continue reading The Lust for Academic Fame: America’s Engine for Scholarly Production
The Art of the Take-Down: Hostile Book Reviews, Pt. 2
Recently I did a post on the art of the take-down -- when a skillful writer demolishes a book with wit and literary precision. Sometimes the target is the subject of the review. More often, the target is the book's author, in which the review becomes a lesson for the reader on what the book … Continue reading The Art of the Take-Down: Hostile Book Reviews, Pt. 2
What If Napoleon Had Won at Waterloo?
Today I want to explore an interesting case of counterfactual history. What would have happened if Napoleon Bonaparte had won in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo? What consequences might have followed for Europe in the next two centuries? That he might have succeeded is not mere fantasy. According to the victor, Lord Wellington, the … Continue reading What If Napoleon Had Won at Waterloo?
The Art of the Take-Down: A Sampling of Hostile Book Reviews
Book reviews are a terrific resource, which allow you to keep up on what's happening in a wide variety of fields without actually having to read the book. And occasionally they point out a book you really should read. Writing these reviews used to be an art that employed a large number of talented writers, … Continue reading The Art of the Take-Down: A Sampling of Hostile Book Reviews