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Jerome Karabel Award Statement

Jerome Karabel's The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (Houghton Mifflin, 2005) is a co-winner of the 2007 American Sociological Association's Distinguished Book Award. In an epic narrative, The Chosen tells the story of admissions policies and practices in America's elite colleges over the full length of the twentieth century. With meticulous documentation, The Chosen shows how, over the first two-thirds of the twentieth century Harvard, Yale, and Princeton invented a selective admissions process that emphasized character over academic excellence as way of defending the positions and pretensions of both their own institutions and those of an American elite. The Chosen goes on to show how, in the final third of the twentieth century, even after the breakdown of the most egregious barriers to the admission of Jews, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and women and even with a growing commitment to some forms of diversity, America's elite universities continue to operate as a key instrument in the reproduction of social class. At the same time exposé, history and analysis, The Chosen has far reaching implications for our understanding of education, racism, social mobility and social change. In addition to the ASA Distinguished Book Award, The Chosen has also been selected for the 2006 National Jewish Book Award, the 2006 Weber Award of the ASA section on Organizations, Occupations, and Work and the 2006 Willard Waller best book award of the ASA section on the Sociology of Education.

Karabel received his BA (1972) and PhD (1977) from Harvard and now teaches in the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Berkeley. Before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1984, Karabel was a Senior Research Associate and Principal Investigator, Huron Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Karabel is the editor, with A. J. Halsey, of Power and Ideology in Education (Oxford University Press), a reader which has helped shape the sociology of education over the last quarter century. He is also the author, with Steven Brint, of The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900-1985 (Oxford University Press), which received the Outstanding Book Award of the American Educational Research Association. His scholarly articles have appeared in The American Sociological Review, The Harvard Education Review, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Social Forces, and Theory and Society. He has also written for In These Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

In 1988, a few years after his arrival in Berkeley, Karabel was appointed to chair the Admissions and Enrollment Committee of the Berkeley Academic Senate. In the politically tense atmosphere of California and amidst growing attacks on California's university system, Karabel's report—“Freshmen Admissions at Berkeley: A Policy for the 1990s and Beyond”—both defended affirmative action and proposed that it be extended to include disadvantaged students, regardless of race. As chronicled in Nicholas Lemann's, The Big Test, in 1996 Karabel became a leader in the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to defeat California's anti-affirmative action Proposition 209. With funding from the Ford Foundation, he is now working on a book length study of The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action at the University of California.