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Conflicted Liberals?

- November 27, 2007

“Decline of the Tenure Track Raises Concerns” in the NY Times notes that there are more adjunct than tenured professors in U.S. universities and colleges. Universities are hiring adjunct faculty due to financial pressures and their desire for more flexibility in hiring (and of course firing). Adjunct faculty are usually hired without health benefits and only with a semester or year contract. Universities are thought of as liberal bastions yet when they are asked to apply those principles to their own institutions they seem to be acting more like conservative business owners.

So, are liberals, with their inner Milton Friedman demons, more conflicted than their conservative counterparts? According to a study by Stanley Feldman and John Zaller way back in 1992 titled, “The Political Culture of Ambivalence: Ideological Responses to the Welfare State,” the answer is YES. They find:

[I]t is liberals rather than conservatives who are most beset by value conflict over social welfare because they are the ones who must somehow reconcile activist government with traditional principles of economic individualism and laissez-faire.

It’s tough being a liberal!

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