The Field Dynamics of Stratification Among US Research Universities: The Expansion of Federal Support for Academic Research, 2000–2008

Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 45)


This chapter applies Mettler’s (2011) concept of the “submerged state” to understand the role of competition for research and development (R&D) funding in the stratification of universities in the US. Universities are conceptualized as members of a field whose contours are shaped by R&D policy. Analysis of data from 2000-2008 shows that, as the research policy environment has changed, patterns of stratification among public universities have shifted. The number of “middle class” public universities declined, while the “striving” group grew slightly and the lowest-resource group expanded notably. The group of elite public universities and all groups of private universities changed minimally. While policy changes appear associated with increased stratification, then, this association seems more pronounced for some (e.g., low- and moderate-resource public) universities than for others. Elite universities may use other resource bases – such as endowments – to maintain positions in evolving status hierarchies.


Stratification Competition Fields Research policy United States 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA

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