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Amy J. Binder and Kate Wood.

2013.

Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives.

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

For more than half a century, critics located in right-leaning think tanks, foundations, and the media have championed the cause of conservative undergraduates who, they say, suffer on college campuses. In books with such titles as Freefall of the American University and The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, conservative critics charge that American higher education has become the playpen of radical faculty who seek to spread their anti-religious, big government, liberal ideas to their young undergraduate charges. In this portrait of the politicized university, middle-of-the road students complacently consume their professors’ calculated misinformation, liberal students smugly revel in feeling that they are on the righteous side of the political divide, and conservative students must decide whether to endure their professors’ tirades quietly or give voice to their outrage, running the risk of sacrificing their grades. Administrators, according to the critics, do little to stop the madness.

To mitigate the effects of what they perceive to be an overwhelmingly liberal environment, conservative organizations such as the Young America’s Foundation and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute have sprung up to help right-leaning students. Yet over the period of time that these organizations have flourished, scholars have taken little systematic notice. In Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives, we fill this gap. Our book—a comparative case study of “Eastern Elite Univerity” and “Western Public University”—covers several themes, including the demographic background characteristics of today’s conservative college students, the organizations that have worked for the past 50 years to mobilize and fund conservative students’ activities, an account of how young women on different campuses vary in their “conservative femininity,” and an analysis of students’ own thoughts about liberal bias.

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Have you ever wondered why sociological research and insights do not occupy a more prominent place in U.S. policy circles or in the American public consciousness?   Sociology’s performance in this regard may reflect the discipline’s efforts to promote (or avoid) approaches like public sociology that actively encourage engagement with the public.  Research about U.S. culture and individualism, however,  suggests two other reasons sociologists may get a chilly reception when we try to promote our research in the U.S.  Read More