Nostalgia, entrepreneurship, and redemption: Understanding prototypes in higher education

Eric Haas, Gustavo Fischman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Recent developments in cognitive science and linguistics provide strong evidence that understanding decision-making processes in higher education requires close attention to not only rational and consciously controlled dynamics but also those aspects that are less consciously controlled than previously assumed. When deciding to favor or reject higher education policies, people use prototypical ways of thinking, involving unconscious reaction and comprehension. This research uses Rosch's and Lakoff's notions of prototypes and Fairclough's critical discourse analysis as the main tools for understanding the prototypes for the conceptual category institutions of higher education. The data for this study come from a sample of all the higher education editorials and opinion articles (1,000 pieces) published over 26 years in three influential U.S. newspapers. Three higher education prototypes are identified and their elements described: academic nostalgia (present but not dominant), educational entrepreneurship (dominant, both positive and negative), and redemptive educational-consumerism (emerging).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-562
Number of pages31
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • cognition
  • educational policy
  • media
  • research methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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