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Technical Change and the Expansion of Schooling in the United States, 1890-1970

Richard Rubinson and John Ralph
Sociology of Education
Vol. 57, No. 3 (Jul., 1984), pp. 134-152
DOI: 10.2307/2112598
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2112598
Page Count: 19
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Technical Change and the Expansion of Schooling in the United States, 1890-1970
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Abstract

This article focuses on the historical expansion of school enrollments in the United States by analyzing one of the most debated factors in theories of schooling: the role of technological change. Although some previous works have attacked the idea that schooling expands in response to technical change, we find that technical change has been an important, though not dominant, factor in expanding primary- and secondary-school enrollments. Our findings are derived from studying the effects of technical change within a model of school expansion using annual aggregate time-series data for the United States from 1890 to 1970. We then develop a theoretical interpretation of the role of technical change in the historical expansion of school enrollments. We argue that the historical relationship between technical change and school expansion has been dependent on a particular institutional structure of schooling and that without the causal role of technical change at critical periods, the continual spiral of school expansion in the United States could not have been sustained.

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