Schooling all the masses: Reconsidering the origins of American schooling in the postbellum era

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Abstract

Many sociological theories predict that urbanization and industrialization in the postbellum United States expanded mass schooling, but, paradoxically, past empirical analyses failed to confirm this prediction. This paradox vanishes when the heretofore understudied substantial growth of Catholic schooling for the predominately urban working class is incorporated into an analysis of school expansion. Analyses of newly compiled archival data on Catholic school enrollments from 1870 to 1930, however, confirmed two hypotheses. First, across five institutional qualities of mass schooling, postbellum Catholic schooling was institutionally isomorphic to public schooling and therefore was mass schooling. Second, an analysis of school expansion done with combined Catholic and public school enrollments found that mass schooling expanded more from 1870 to 1930 in states with large urban populations and large industrial labor forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-215
Number of pages19
JournalSociology of Education
Volume72
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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