Ethnographic Notes A – Higher Education and Society examples of reproduction and reform of Society


Example of reproduction of social and cultural patterns:

One of my uncles was adopted into my family after being an orphan and living on the streets at a young age. He was also within 10 years of my age. As we both grew up he began working early on as a Domino’s delivery driver and did not go to college. I’m not sure exactly when but he eventually got ASE certified and began working on cars which has always been one if his passions. He has been an auto mechanic for most of the time that I have known him. However, one day something went wrong with one of the cars he had worked on. This resulted in him being fired from the shop that he worked with. As a result of this he decided it was time for him to go to college and pursue a career that would give him more options for employment. So he enrolled in a community college in the area and started taking classes. However, he encountered trouble with financial aid and with teachers in class. He was uncomfortable approaching his teachers, the guidance counselor, and the people who would help with financial aid. So he ended up going to my Mom for help multiple times. He has never completed his degree.

Example of reform of social and cultural patterns:

26th Amendment

26th Amendment


The 26th Amendment is a good example of Higher Education reforming society. The amendment was signed in response to student protest and criticism of being old enough to be drafted into a war but not old enough to vote in elections that would determine the course of the war.

Emilee’s Post:

The higher education system in America is an important component for maintaining the reproduction of class structure in society. In a speech given by Ralph Waldo Emerson to Armory Hall in 1884, he stated “I notice too, that the ground on which eminent public servants urge the claims of popular education is fear: ‘This country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from our throats.’ We do not believe that any education, any system of philosophy, any influence of genius, will ever give depth of insight to a superficial mind. Having settled ourselves into this infidelity, our skill is expended to procure alleviations, diversion, opiates. We adorn the victim with manual skill, his tongue with languages, his body with inoffensive and comely manners.” This statement summarizes the mentality of elite figures who realized that in order to keep the general public complacent, there needed to be a system put in place that would keep a certain “order” which would enable these elite members of society to capitalize off of “productive” members of society. We can see clearly how successful this sort of philosophy has been in creating a disparate divide in wealth between the wealthiest members of American society and the “working class” citizens. There has never been a greater wealth divide in the U.S. than there is today.

An example of how higher education has and continues to changes society is demonstrated by Professor Noam Chomsky when he discusses how the model of a large portion of higher education is designed in a way which inhibits advancements in science and engineering. Because the educational model in the U.S. discourages critical thinking across the board (with some exceptions of course), there is a contradiction that forms where creativity and independent thought are necessary for advancement. Since corporations need progress in the sciences and engineering, the current model of higher education becomes a crutch in advancements in these areas.

Works Cited:

“Philosophy of Education — From: Chapter 5: Schooling in Capitalist America.” Philosophy of Education — From: Chapter 5: Schooling in Capitalist America. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2013.

“21 – Essays – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).” 21 – Essays – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2013.



When started in my current job they said as we after a certain number of years in a job you can get promoted to the next level.  Because by that time you would have the experience to move up to another type of job.  Example: Being a Secretary for three years you could become a Environmental Specialist Tech because you would have the skills for that job.  But starting with our 2009 contract the Union now made that impossible.  It didn’t matter how many years of experience you had at a certain job you had to stay put and have a degree in that field to be promoted. So since I want to be in a better job. I went back to school starting this last year because that is the only way I can get promoted.

That is why higher education is important. We need it to make more money and get the promotions that we deserve. Experience doesn’t mean anything in the real world anymore, and the only way to get experience is too start below where you are or to do an internship   Employers don’t just want Degree’s they also want the experience in that field.  It’s a double edge sword. You can’t just have one anymore you need both in today’s society.

Wolf, Kim. April 2012. Why is Higher Education Important? [online] Accessed 2013 May 9


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