Jerome Karabel is an American sociologist, political and social commentator, and Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley. He has written extensively on American institutions of higher education and on various aspects of social policy and history in the United States, often from a comparative perspective.
Karabel is the author of The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, which received the Distinguished Scholarly Book Award from the American Sociological Association. He is also co-author of The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900-1985, which received the Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association. His research in the sociology of education explores notions of meritocracy, opportunity, access, and cultural capital in American higher education, and the role of the educational system in legitimating the existing social order.
In The Chosen, Karabel chronicles the admissions policies of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton over the course of the twentieth century, describing how new admissions criteriaâ€”including letters of recommendation, athletic and extracurricular achievements, and interviews, in addition to a studentâ€™s academic credentialsâ€”were first introduced in the 1920s in an effort to limit the number of Jewish students. Such starkly redefined measures of â€œmeritâ€ were institutionalized at these and other elite institutions over time, even as these schools later adapted such admission policies in response to growing demands for greater democratization and diversity during the mid and latter half of the twentieth century.