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What is a “credential society"?Is there too much of an emphasis on credentials in the...

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matt09 | (Level 2) Honors

Posted March 14, 2010 at 9:30 AM via web

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What is a “credential society"?

Is there too much of an emphasis on credentials in the U.S.? If so, how might this be harmful? To whom? Have you ever personally benefited from or been victimized by gatekeeping? How? Overall, do you find yourself agreeing more with the functionalist position (gatekeeping exists because society and its members benefit from it) or with the conflict position (gatekeeping exists for the benefit of powerful interests who use it to protect their privileged place in the American social class system)? Why? Give some examples in your answer.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 14, 2010 at 9:35 AM (Answer #1)

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I do not know whether there is more of an emphasis on credentials in the US than anywhere else, but I do think that we do emphasize credentials too much.

I've been, in my opinion, on both sides of this.  Before I started teaching high school, I had been teaching in college.  But because we require credentials, I had to spend a year getting a teaching certificate that did very little to make me a better teacher.  On the other hand, I got paid better than other first year teachers because I had a Ph.D., which did not necessarily make me a better teacher.

As far as the reason, I think it is functionalist.  It gives decision-makers an easy way to identify who is (allegedly) competent.  This lowers the costs of hiring people, which should help society as a whole.

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