Between Citizens and the State: The Politics of American Higher Education in the 20th Century (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America)

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9780691148274: Between Citizens and the State: The Politics of American Higher Education in the 20th Century (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America)


This book tracks the dramatic outcomes of the federal government's growing involvement in higher education between World War I and the 1970s, and the conservative backlash against that involvement from the 1980s onward. Using cutting-edge analysis, Christopher Loss recovers higher education's central importance to the larger social and political history of the United States in the twentieth century, and chronicles its transformation into a key mediating institution between citizens and the state.


Framed around the three major federal higher education policies of the twentieth century--the 1944 GI Bill, the 1958 National Defense Education Act, and the 1965 Higher Education Act--the book charts the federal government's various efforts to deploy education to ready citizens for the national, bureaucratized, and increasingly global world in which they lived. Loss details the myriad ways in which academic leaders and students shaped, and were shaped by, the state's shifting political agenda as it moved from a preoccupation with economic security during the Great Depression, to national security during World War II and the Cold War, to securing the rights of African Americans, women, and other previously marginalized groups during the 1960s and '70s. Along the way, Loss reappraises the origins of higher education's current-day diversity regime, the growth of identity group politics, and the privatization of citizenship at the close of the twentieth century.


At a time when people's faith in government and higher education is being sorely tested, this book sheds new light on the close relations between American higher education and politics.


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"More than just a deeply researched, nuanced history of the politics of higher education, Between Citizens and the State makes a major contribution to American political history, uncovering little known but highly significant instruments of national power and shedding new light on the complex, hidden ways government works in the modern United States."--Bruce Schulman, Boston University


"The current intense scrutiny of higher education calls for rethinking its history. An excellent place to begin is Christopher Loss's fresh and challenging interpretation. With lively case studies, he illuminates institutional responses to the nation's expanding sense of democratic values."--Hugh Hawkins, Amherst College


"Fresh and original, this exhilarating book deepens our understanding of American higher education. Crossing boundaries where persons meet institutions, structures meet their interpreters, and the state meets society, it powerfully illuminates key features of American political life that concern administration, regulation, identity, and citizenship."--Ira Katznelson, Columbia University


"Combining a vision of broad patterns of social change with a historian's appreciation of real people whose actions mattered, Christopher Loss has written a wonderfully rich analysis of the ways that universities worked in between the federal government and the people to create an educated--if conflict-ridden--democracy."--John Skrentny, University of California, San Diego


"Loss has produced a social history that connects the daily experiences of citizens touched by higher education to the grand political debates of their time. I am not aware of any other book that probes the higher education-governmental nexus in relation to the therapeutic state and this impressive work stimulates a fresh debate about how political change occurs in the United States."--Gareth Davies, University of Oxford


"Changes in the meaning of American citizenship have been powerfully shaped by the rise of higher education, with crucial implications for the polity and American society today. Addressing a surprisingly neglected but important area--the relationship between the American state and institutions of higher education throughout the mid-twentieth century--Loss illuminates the transformation in how the nation's most highly-educated citizens were educated for democracy. This rich and compelling book fills a major void."--Suzanne Mettler, Cornell University


About the Author:

Christopher P. Loss is assistant professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt University.

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