University scientism and American economic interests

Mitchell B. Langbert
  • Industry and Higher Education, March 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0950422218765664

University Scientism and Political Correctness

What is it about?

"University Scientism and American Economic Interests" traces the history of the development of universities in the Gilded Age and Progressive eras. It looks at several patterns: histories of the development of social science, histories of philanthropic giving to universities, and sociological thinking about science. It also looks at philanthropic giving as of January 2018 and concludes that the pattern of philanthropic giving to universities mirrors the elitist pattern of philanthropic giving of the Progressive era. The left-oriented, politically correct university of today was shaped by foundations interested in eliminating the Christian influence in the 19th century university, and today's left orientation and political correctness are a direct outcome of the proactive fashioning of universities by foundations. (The state, which also played an important role starting with World War I and the New Deal, will be treated in subsequent work.) Scientism enabled researchers to access foundation funds under the scientistic pretense that moralistic social science was science.

Why is it important?

Universities were largely shaped by institutions that wanted a specific, homogeneous culture dominated by a few research institutions. They also wanted to eliminate Christian influence. Universities' orientations have moved to the left as the preferences of elite donors have.


Mitchell Langbert (Author)
City University of New York, Brooklyn College, Koppelman School of Business

Recently there have been claims (see, e.g. Neil Gross's Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care?) that personality and personnel selection are the chief "causes" of left and Democratic dominance in American universities. The claim is that those who are left politically have more psychological openness and come from ethnic or religious backgrounds associated with the Democratic Party. In this piece I show that powerful foundations largely shaped the modern university, and they had a direct interest in funding more left-wing institutions.

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