John W. Meyer's research while affiliated with Stanford University and other places

Publications (122)

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Higher education has expanded at astonishing rates around the world. We seek to understand the oppositions that periodically arise, which may produce enrollment declines and/or imposition of political controls. The post-1945 growth of higher education was – to a greater extent than is often recognized – propelled by the liberal, and later neolibera...
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The global neoliberal era has sparked a burgeoning literature. Most accounts emphasize the political economy of the period, focusing on global markets and privatization. By contrast, we conceptualize neoliberalism as a broad cultural ideology that has reshaped how we think about people and institutions in all arenas of life, not just the economy. W...
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Education, both mass and elite, has spread everywhere over recent centuries, generally taking globally standardized forms. The studies in this book address its distinctively compulsory form. It is originally organized for the collective good of religious and later political society, and more recently formulated as a citizen—and later human—right. E...
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Recent decades have witnessed a discursive expansion of calls for abstract and charismatic management beyond the systematic administration of concrete settings—hyper-management. A first dimension of hyper-management is the lionization of individuals and organizations as empowered purposive actors, embodied in celebrations of vision, innovation, and...
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The dramatic expansion and rising social significance of education integrates the world’s populations and elites under a common ontological frame and on the basis of common human identities rooted in educational status and cultural content. Education-based integration supports institutions of solidarity – large-scale organizational structures in na...
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The advent of mass schooling played a pivotal role in European societies of the later nineteenth century, transforming rural peasants into national citizens. The late-twentieth-century global expansion of higher education ushered in new transformations, propelling societal rationalization and organizing, and knitting the world into a more integrate...
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This chapter discusses curricular growth, focusing on the new human materials made available by globalization and liberalization that was developed during the liberal period of the last half-century. It explains how globalization diminishes both real and imagined boundaries around humans, society, and nature, and opens new cultural terrains to acad...
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The university is experiencing an unprecedented level of success today, as more universities in more countries educate more students in more fields. At the same time, the university has become central to a knowledge society based on the belief that everyone can, through higher education, access universal truths and apply them in the name of progres...
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This chapter reflects on the university's sweeping expansion and its centrality in a contemporary global society built on liberal and neoliberal institutions. It delineates multiple dimensions of expansion, giving special attention to the growing cultural content included in the university and in a public society deeply intertwined with the univers...
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This chapter analyzes the resultant model of a knowledge society dependent on the credentials and cultural content provided by the university. It describes universalistic rationalism as the defining characteristic of knowledge society, which is more than the differentiation theorists have sometimes imagined. It also reflects on the properties of a...
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This chapter presents the exploding numbers and broadening capacities of students and professors that skyrocket over time, especially as the hyper-modern society assembles around the university-based knowledge system. It discusses how schooling is seen as relevant for more and more sorts of people and points out how the dimensions of people are act...
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This chapter describes the multi-dimensional expansion of the university, focusing especially on its accumulating numbers and global diffusion. It stresses the transcendence and universalism of the university at the global level. It also analyzes how university expansion is expected to occur earlier and more fully in the global core than in the glo...
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This chapter focuses on cultural contents claimed and carried by the university. It discusses the nature of academic knowledge, stressing above all its universalistic and rationalistic properties. It analyzes the worldwide expansion and triumph of academic knowledge throughout everyday life. The chapter also highlights the worldwide expansion of ac...
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This chapter depicts the elaborated and porous interface between the university and society, paying special attention to the expanded number and range of linkages. It analyzes how people and knowledge flow from nodes in the university into arenas in society. It reviews the main lines of expansion that run from the university to the knowledge societ...
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Constitution-Making and Transnational Legal Order - edited by Gregory Shaffer April 2019
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Observers have noted that organizations in all sectors, whether business, nonprofit, or government, have been moving toward rationalized structures that presuppose and express empowered organizational actorhood. We draw upon neo-institutional theory in this paper to extend the argument: The arrival of organizational actorhood has precipitated a con...
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Recent decades have seen rapid growth of national participation in international tests as well as expanded national assessment testing. This article addresses the relationship between these forms of testing and educational developments: educational enrollments, women’s participation in schooling, repetition rates, student centrism in the curriculum...
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Reflections on Chris Chase-Dunn's career
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A broadly recognized sociological insight is that rising levels of individualism increasingly characterize a growing number of countries. This article examines the extent to which schooling is altered by, and transmits, this core cultural shift. It analyzes 476 secondary school social science textbooks from 78 countries from 1950 to 2011 to see whe...
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We review world society research that theorizes differences rather than similarities in diffusion into local settings. Six characteristics of global diffusion processes, most of which contribute directly to local variation, are featured: structural embeddedness, decoupling, domestication, multiple diffusion, contingent diffusion, and multi-level di...
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Since World War II, world discourse and organization focused on educational policy have greatly expanded. Globally institutionalized models of society have been elaborated and have gained much influence over national societies. These models increasingly focus on education as central to the accomplishment of the legitimated goals of socioeconomic pr...
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I feel very fortunate to be able to open the MOR Dialogue, Debate, and Discussion editorial section with a striking perspective advanced by Shawn Pope and John W. Meyer of Stanford University. They point to the rise of a global corporate organization that is shedding its national distinctiveness and any remaining local rooting. Instead, they envisi...
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As seen in this volume's introductory chapter, the modern movement for corporate social responsibility (CSR) is rooted in the rise of a global society. Its norms and conceptions are supranational and explicitly appeal to very diffuse cultural principles. The corporate citizenship it espouses is global rather than national in character and is focuse...
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An important transformation is reshaping once-distinct social structures, such as charitable and religious groups, family firms, and government agencies, into more analogous units called organizations. We use the ideas of sociological institutionalism to build a cultural explanation for the blurring between traditional sectors. In contrast to mains...
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We offer an institutional explanation for the contemporary expansion of formal organization—in numbers, internal complexity, social domains, and national contexts. Much expansion lies in areas far beyond the traditional foci on technical production or political power, such as protecting the environment, promoting marginalized groups, or behaving wi...
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A set of policy ideas has been institutionalized in global society in the last decade or two and has spread very widely among nation-states. Higher education in general and the university in particular are highly valued and as much more than incidental prestige good. The teaching and research they produce are now seen as core components of developm...
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A recent movement has extended previous emphases on the rights of national citizens by asserting the global human rights of all persons. This article describes the extent to which this change is reflected in the language of national constitutions around the world. Human rights language – formerly absent from almost all constitutions – now appears i...
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This paper explores the thesis that models of post-national societies and global citizenship are on the rise and that these models have important educational implications. We examine changing portraits of citizens, states, and societies in school textbooks around the world. We find that in general, textbooks are increasingly more student-centered,...
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The world environmental movement has gained much strength in recent decades and has led many nations to focus on environmental education. We examine the extent to which this global movement has helped change national textbooks. We also consider the effects of national development, national policy on environmentalism, and the general expansion of po...
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This article discusses relations among the multiple levels of analysis present in macro-sociological explanation—i.e., relations of individual, structural, and institutional processes. It also criticizes the doctrinal insistence upon single-level individualistic explanation found in some prominent contemporary sociological theory. For illustrative...
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A striking feature of modern societies is the extent to which individual persons are culturally validated as equal and empowered actors. The expansion of a wide range of rights in recent decades, given prominence in current discussions of world society, supports an expanded conception of the individual. We examine the extent to which broad global c...
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Much modern social theory depicts society as made up of autonomous and purposive individual and organized actors. In reaction, the new institutional theories build arguments about the wider social conditions supporting stable systems of such agentic actors. Phenomenological versions, which are especially relevant to analyses of modern integrating b...
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In reaction to the disasters of the first half the 20th century and World War II, a dramatic world movement arose emphasizing the human rights of persons in global society. The contrast—celebrated in international treaties, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and much cultural discourse—was with narrower world emphases on the right...
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This special issue had it roots in a symposium organized by Tammar Zilber and Roy Suddaby for the Academy of Management 2003 annual meetings in Seattle. The symposium was titled "Reclaiming the Symbolic in Institutional Theory" and represented an effort to refocus research attention on the phenomenological aspects of institutions. At the time, we w...
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Swidler. The paper also draws from past conversations with S.N. Eisenstadt, Edgar Kiser, and Morris Zelditch Jr. The analysis reflects our work on previous related projects (Meyer and Jepperson 2000 and Jepperson and Meyer 2007).
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One of the dominant features of the age of globalization is the rampant expansion of organization. In particular, formal, standardized, rationalized, and empowered forms of organization expand in many domains and locales. We discuss these features of organization, showing that hyper-rationalization and actorhood are main themes of organization acro...
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Viele formale organisationale Strukturen entstehen als Spiegelung rationalisierter institutioneller Regeln. Die Elaborierung solcher Regeln in modernen Staaten und Gesellschaften bedingt in Teilen die Expansion und erhöhte Komplexität von formalen organisationalen Strukturen. Institutionelle Regeln fungieren als Mythen, die von Organisationen inkor...
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This study explores, with quantitative data analyses, why nation-states with very negative human rights records tend to sign and ratify human rights treaties at rates similar to those of states with positive records. The study's core arguments are (1) that the deepening international human rights regime creates opportunities for rights-violating go...
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34 Contemporary institutional theorizing in the field of organizations dates back thirty-odd years. This particularly describes what are called new or neo-institutionalisms. These terms evoke contrasts with earlier theories of the embeddedness of organizations in social and cultural contexts, now retrospectively called the 'old institutionalism' (H...
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Since the Second World War, there has been a steadily increasing awareness of a global society, and of national interdependencies in this society. The catastrophes of the war (and earlier Depression) and the extraordinary violations of human rights and welfare are involved. So are rapid decolonization, and political and economic interdependencies....
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For centuries, the processes of social differentiation associated with Modernity have often been thought to intensify the need for site-specific forms of role training and knowledge production, threatening the university’s survival either through fragmentation or through failure to adapt. Other lines of argument emphasize the extent to which the Mo...
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Human rights education is increasingly emphasized worldwide in organizational, curricular and discursive developments (Andreopoulos and Claude 1997; Elbers 2002). We analyze this expansion, with information on both world- and national-level educational patterns.
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All over the world new ideas and models emerge on how to organize the higher education sector and its institutions. The contributions in this volume identify the most influential transnational models and investigate their origins and mechanisms of dissemination as well as the resulting consequences for national systems. Will global trends in higher...
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All over the world new ideas and models emerge on how to organize the higher education sector and its institutions. The contributions in this volume identify the most influential transnational models and investigate their origins and mechanisms of dissemination as well as the resulting consequences for national systems. Will global trends in higher...
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Incl. abstract, tables, bibl. Educational policy around the world has increasingly focused on improving aggregate student achievement as a means to increase economic growth. In the last two decades, attention has focused especially on the importance of achievement in science and mathematics. Yet, the policy commitments involved have not been based...
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Employers have experimented with three broad approaches to promoting diversity. Some programs are designed to establish organizational responsibility for diversity, others to moderate managerial bias through training and feedback, and still others to reduce the social isolation of women and minority workers. These approaches find support in academi...
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We assess the factors affecting national administrative rationalization in the context of the current worldwide movement for governance reforms, focusing on national linkages to world society rather than internal socioeconomic development. We conduct cross-national longitudinal analyses of a multiple-indicator measure of rationalized governance for...
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The authors analyze the rapid worldwide expansion of higher educational enrollments over the twentieth century using pooled panel regressions. Expansion is higher in economically developed countries (in some but not all analyses) as classic theories would have it. Growth is greater where secondary enrollments are high and where state control over e...
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En este ensayo revisamos datos empíricos sobre la expansión de la educación superior en todo el mundo durante el siglo XX. Primero, se produjo una expansión extraordinaria, de tal modo que cambió toda la escala de la educación superior a nivel mundial. Segundo, esta expansión se concentró en el período posterior a aproximadamente el año 1960. Terce...
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The review is organised around 3 general issues: the factors affecting the origins and expansion of national educational systems; the factors affecting the organizational structures and ideologies of schools and schooling systems; and the effects of expanded educational systems for individuals, groups and societies. A distinction between processes...
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The state has come to be a major focus of political and historical sociology in recent years. In the growing literature, there appears to be an underemphasis on the cultural and institutional contexts of the state's emergence and expansiion. Two distinct issues are crucial: 1) the evolution of society as a collective actor, including the establishm...
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In recent decades, the individual has become more and more central in both national and world cultural accounts of the operation of society. This continues a long historical process, intensified by the consolidation of a more global polity and the weakening of the primordial sovereignty of the national state. Increasingly, society is culturally roo...
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Much social theory takes for granted the core conceit of modern culture, that modern actors—individuals, organizations, nation states—are autochthonous and natural entities, no longer really embedded in culture. Accordingly, while there is much abstract metatheory about ‘actors’ and their ‘agency,’ there is arguably little theory about the topic. T...
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Expanded scientific activity is thought to benefit national economic development through improved labor force capacities and the creation of new knowledge and technology. However, scientific research activity expands as a global process and reflects the penetration of societies by a general rationalistic world culture. The authors point out that sc...
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Dans les parutions recentes de sociologie et d'education, on constate une penurie de travaux d'etudes longitudinales et comparatives sur les changements dans les programmes d'etudes. En particulier, les etudes systemiques sont rares. Cet article vise a combler ce manque puisqu'il produit une etude du programme d'histoire a l'Universite dans plusieu...
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The authors analyze the nation-state as a worldwide institution constructed by worldwide cultural and associational processes, developing four main topics: (1) properties of nation-states that result from their exogenously driven construction, including isomorphism, decoupling, and expansive structuration; (2) processes by which rationalistic world...
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World society is not organized around a single state, and the separate national states took up environmental concerns only very belatedly. During the past century, the spread of a scientific culture and thr creation of an international associational system-most prominently around the United Nations-helped structure a world environmental regime by o...
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De nombreuses recherches ont porte sur l'augmentation quantitative de l'enseignement secondaire, a la fois d'un point de vue national et international. Toutefois, tres peu de recherches ont porte sur le contenu des enseignements et les programmes d'etudes. Les AA. proposent une analyse comparative mondiale de la preparation des programmes d'enseign...
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Contemporary societies are organized around models in which both collective and individual goods, resources, and other properties are central. These models are highly developed and rationalized so that scientific and cultural scrutiny of their core elements are highly legitimated. In almost all of these models, the individual is such a core element...
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This study uses longitudinal data on nearly 300 American employers over the period 1955-85 to analyze the adoption of disciplinary hearings and grievance procedures for nonunion salaried and hourly employees. Hypotheses are developed from an institutional perspective that focuses, first, on uncertainty arising from government mandates concerning eq...
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Internal labor markets have been explained with efficiency and control arguments; however, retrospective event-history data from 279 organizations suggest that federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) law was the force behind the spread of formal promotion mechanisms after 1964. The findings highlight the way in which American public policy, with...