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Department Talk

Fithawee Tzeggai
Monday, January 14, 2019
10:00-11:30 AM
4154 LSA Building Map
The court-mandated integration of urban schools, beginning in the 1970s, marks a signal policy victory of the civil rights movement and remains a key pillar of the liberal school reform agenda today. This achievement, however, disappointed many of the early leaders of the school integration movement who had grown frustrated with the limited scope and narrow focus of desegregation reform. In this talk, I examine the emergence of new social scientific knowledge about educational inequality as a key factor shaping the precise outcomes and political fallout of the urban school integration movement. I focus on the making of a 1966 government survey report titled Equality of Educational Opportunity, better known as the Coleman Report after its lead author, sociologist James Coleman. The Coleman Report reached bold conclusions and eventually achieved scientific consensus despite backlash from its primary sponsors in the federal government and from researchers and activists on the ground. Incorporating theoretical approaches from science studies and the sociology of expertise, this talk asks how Coleman’s research team arrived at these conclusions and how its analysis achieved scientific authority in government and academia. I argue that the methods and analysis of the Coleman Report were influenced by politically contested and constrained local studies on school segregation and inequality in cities. Focusing on the central case of Chicago’s schools, this talk shows how the local politics of knowledge had indirect but lasting consequences for the methodological and theoretical choices of more detached and apparently objective researchers in Washington D.C. This case has implications for the sociology of knowledge production and for our understanding of the political consequences of social science research.
Building: LSA Building
Event Type: Presentation
Tags: Sociology
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Sociology