Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Learned a new word today: homogamy. It's not the gay marriage that's breaking out all over (traraa traraa!) but a sociological term for people marrying within a given sociological category. In recent decades, I learned at a talk by Richard Arum today, "class homogamy" has ceded place to "educational homogamy." Spouses and partners have attained the same educational level (high school, college, etc.), and often spent time at the same schools.

Arum was discussing the results of research underlying the book he coauthored with Josipa Roksa, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. As has been widely reported, they found that today's college students spend dramatically less time studying than students half a century ago - at least in part because many college classes give high grades for next to no reading or writing. Homogamy came up as he considered the non-learning outcomes of a college education, which he suggested more and more students come for: college life (a more social than academic experience), networks and connections which lead to employment, and, well, who you wind up spending your life with. You can get all of these even if your skills in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing are untouched.

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