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ERIC Number: EJ824439
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2001-May
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
The Consequences of Democratizing Knowledge: Reconsidering Richard Hofstadter and the History of Education
De Simone, Deborah M.
History Teacher, v34 n3 p373-382 May 2001
In his Pulitzer Prize winning work, "Anti-intellectualism in American Life," Richard Hofstadter set out to trace the social movements that altered the role of intellect in society from a virtue to a vice. In so doing, he explored questions regarding the purpose of education and whether the democratization of education altered that purpose and reshaped its form. In considering the historic tension between access to education and excellence in education, Hofstadter argued that both anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were consequences, in part, of the democratization of knowledge. Moreover, he saw these themes as historically embedded in America's national fabric, an outcome of her colonial European and evangelical Protestant heritage. Anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were functions of American cultural heritage, not necessarily of democracy. Hofstadter came to recognize the connection between utilitarianism and anti-intellectualism as his work in the history of education evolved. His initial concern with the role of the university and the intellectual in society developed into a powerful critique of the present purpose of education and the state of public education in the United States. In this article, the author explores Hofstadter's interest in educational issues and considers his legacy within the field of history as a whole. (Contains 19 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States