Veronique de Rugy points to Daniel Klein’s study summary in which he investigates why there are so few conservative and libertarian professors. His answer? Path dependence — few conservatives would want to enter a field already dominated by liberals — plus a reinforcing mechanism:
The majoritarian procedure of each department means that once a majority leans left, the department will tend toward leftist uniformity. The pyramidal structure of each discipline means that publication, awards, grants, recommendations will follow the pyramid’s apex, and if the apex goes left it tends to sweep leftists/neuters into job posts throughout the pyramid.
If leftists have a lock on many fields, it means that non-left applicants will tend to be screened out. Awareness of that feeds back to the non-left student’s thoughts about the future. Self-selection is a function of the screening.
We found that Republican-voting members of the scholarly associations were significantly more likely to have landed outside of academia. For example, in Anthropology/Sociology, 43% of the Republican scholars were working outside academia, compared with only 24% of Democrat scholars. In History, it was 47% versus 27%. In all six disciplines overall, it was 41% versus 25.
I think this is a partial explanation of a much larger phenomenon. Klein is himself a professor, at George Mason (incidentally, he’s also the same guy who did a study purported to show that the Spectator isn’t pro-liberty) and so it’s not surprising that he thinks mostly of universities. The reality is, however, that liberals dominate a lot of fields in a way that conservatives do not. The vast majority of the mainstream media, except for some glaring exceptions that prove the rule, is composed of liberals. Hollywood, musicians, career government officials, artists, etc. are all liberal areas. I can’t think of a single walk of life that is similarly conservative, except for perhaps oil companies — which is a little more specific than just academia.
Self-selection has something to do with it, but there’s more going on there.
The military leans conservative, as commentator BillD points out.
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