Abstract

This article traces the pluralist politics at the heart of Clark Kerr's book The Uses of the University to the present-day politics of diversity. Pluralism was the dominant theory of American politics at midcentury, and Kerr was among its most admired spokespersons. First as a labor economist and strike negotiator, then as chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, and later as president of the University of California system, Kerr relied on "pluralistic decision-making" to harmonize relations among the multiversity's mix of vested interests. Shortly after The Uses of the University was published in 1963, however, student protesters at Berkeley and at other multiversities like it let Kerr know that they had grown tired of the pluralist politics that he championed. Ironically, in their effort to upend the pluralist status quo and to make politics more participatory, campus insurgents sowed the seeds for the growth of a new brand of pluralist politics known as diversity. By uncovering the relationship between pluralism and diversity, this article reveals the enduring—and surprising—political legacy of Kerr's multiversity model 50 years after he unveiled it.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8034
Print ISSN
0145-5532
Pages
pp. 525-549
Launched on MUSE
2012-12-22
Open Access
No
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