The Credential Society Revisited

18 mai 2011 par lucieberaudsudreau

Randall COLLINS, University of Pennsylvania, President of the American Sociological Association

Seminar: The Credential Society Revisited: On the Dynamics of Educational Inflation

May 25, 2011, 10:00 – 12:00

Salle A. Percheron, 98, rue de l’Université

In his 1979 book, The Credential Society, Randall Collins presented evidence that technological change was not driving the trend towards higher levels of education in workforce. The most high-tech organizations were not leading the demand for educational certificates, and technical skills were learned mainly through informal networks rather than formal schooling. Instead educational credentials have built on their historical association with superior social status; and the dynamics of educational expansion have come from social pressures for expanding educational access rather than from employer demand. International historical comparisons show that it is countries like the US (and later Japan) with decentralized educational systems, and a high degree of competition among many schools and universities seeking students, that have led the long term trend to highly educated populations. Educational certificates act like a monetary currency, which purchases less as the currency becomes more widespread; thus the inflation of educational credentials has driven a self-reinforcing process, whereby jobs increase their degree requirements for employment as more educated persons seek them. Unlike currency inflation, however, producing ever-more educational credentials is not costless. At crucial points, the cost of producing credentials becomes a strain for students and their families, or for governments, and the inflationary spiral enters a crisis. Such crises will be increasingly severe in the future.

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