Paths to Work: Credentialing Inequality in the United States
Cristina Groeger

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Lake Forest College

Primary Discipline

"Paths to Work: Credentialing Inequality in the United States" examines how expanding formal education in the modern United States, often hailed as the primary road to opportunity, became a new terrain on which inequalities were remade and legitimated. Using quantitative data analysis and traditional archives, Paths to Work traces the transformation from workplace-based training in the nineteenth century to school-based training in the twentieth century in the city of Boston, illuminating the role of education in shaping the particular form of the American welfare state and capitalist economy. While grassroots demand fueled educational expansion that allowed women and second-generation immigrants to enter growing sectors of work, elites used educational credentials to control access to the highest managerial and professional positions. This new historical narrative reorients the focus of contemporary inequality scholarship from the "turning point"? of the 1970s to the profound shift a century earlier.
About Cristina Groeger
Cristina Groeger is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Lake Forest College. She completed her Ph.D. in History at Harvard University in 2017. Her scholarship focuses on the historical construction of work, education, and labor markets in the modern U.S., and how these processes have given rise to a society with one of the highest levels of social inequality across the Global North. She teaches courses on U.S. urban history, the history of education, immigration, gender and sexuality, social movements and inequality. She received her A.B. from Harvard College in 2008 with a concentration in Social Studies. Before beginning graduate school, she was a high school history teacher in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in the History of Education Quarterly, the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and the New England Quarterly.

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