Thursday, November 18, 2004

More Proof of the Liberal Bias in Academia

Daniel Klein and Charlotta Stern of the National Association of Scholars have just published a report (pdf format) entitled "How Politically Diverse Are the Social Sciences and Humanities?: Survey Evidence from Six Fields." The abstract of the article states:
In Spring 2003, a large-scale survey of American academics was conducted using academic association membership lists from six fields: Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy (political and legal), Political Science, and Sociology. This paper focuses on one question: To which political party have the candidates you've voted for in the past ten years mostly belonged? The question was answered by 96.4 percent of academic respondents. The results show that the faculty is heavily skewed towards voting Democratic. The most lopsided fields surveyed are Anthropology with a D to R ratio of 30.2 to 1, and Sociology with 28.0 to 1. The least lopsided is Economics with 3.0 to 1. After Economics, the least lopsided is Political Science with 6.7 to 1. The average of the six ratios by field is about 15 to 1. Our analysis and related research suggest that for the the social sciences and humanities overall, a "one-big-pool" ratio of 7 to 1 is a safe lower-bound estimate, and 8 to 1 or 9 to 1 are reasonable point estimate. Thus, the social sciences and humanities are dominated by Democrats. There is little ideological diversity. We discuss Stephen Balch's "property rights" proposal to help remedy the situation.
My own field, History, had a 9.5 to 1 ratio of Democrat to Republican. Depressing, huh? Overall, the authors believe it is safe to assume a 9:1 or 8:1 Democrat:Republican ratio. However, their deeper analyis, based on replies to 18 policy question, indicates that of those who voted Republican, there it is highly likely that they are more liberal than a generic Republican would be. As such
Further, the 18 policy questions of the survey--not analyzed in the present paper--showed that there is rather little heterogeneity of opinion among Democrats, that the Green voters are essentially like Democrats. Thus the "tent" of the Left on campus is not a big tent, but a rather narrow tent.

The policy questions showed more significantly heterogeneity under the Republican tent. Moreover, the Libertarians have grounds for saying that most campus Republicans are not so different than Democrats. As small as the percentage of non-Left voices are, therefore, they become even smaller when separated into their own camps, such as, traditionalist, neo-conservative, and classical liberal/libertarian. Rather than Left v. Right, it makes more sense to view the campus landscape as composed of a very dominant Left--with some heterogeneity, of course, but less than one migh expect--and a heroic fringe of several different non-Left voices, each almost infinitesimal, who on certain issues join together but rarely sustain a faculty-led program. (p. 15-16)
I get the feeling that I have unconsciously sought the fringe. How else to explain a conservative living in Rhode Island seeking an MA in History? Fight the Power!

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