The Reproduction of Social Elites by Elite Universities

What is an elite university? What makes Brown University an elite university? How elite is Brown University? There is a couple of strategies that universities practice in order to polish their reputation and competitive edge. Among these strategies are reproducing and preserving a distinct upper class in society endowed with social privileges, whitewashing and denying class privileges of the institution and its students, globalizing and connecting members the elite class in different countries and thus exaggerating the diversity of its student body. Brown University’s degree of eliteness is constantly shifting depend on the political orient of the person who is being asked and the demographic composition of its student body.

In this paper, I also examine the concept of cosmopolitanism, which is defined as “the an orientation of openness to foreign others and cultures” (Igarashi and Saito, 2014). Visibly, this concept is found in the university’s advertisement of its own openness to diversity, multiculturalism and cultural competency. I concur with Igarashi and Saito’s analysis that despite the good intent of the university, cultural competency, far from being a means to reduce global inequality, is being used for the purposes of domination and (neo)colonialism.

I then look into the way the traditional elites (white, male, Protestant) treat new and upcoming elites who are of different races, countries of origin and cultures, but possess wealth that can rival these old-money families. Finally, I look at the experiences of low-income, formerly non-elite students, who become elite themselves after graduation or by entering into elite jobs.

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