To newly minted Ph.D.s, the structural reasons for the lousy job market may well matter less than the inescapable fact that the job market is, well, lousy. Finkelstein said that the research he and Schuster have been doing "quite clearly suggests there isn’t an academic career anymore."Yes, read that over again: "there isn't an academic career anymore." Game over. The jobs are disappearing, being converted into contingent positions. A contingent position indefinitely, a permatemp job, isn't a "career." And it's true that for many recent Ph.D.s, the structural reasons may seem remote, but we HAVE TO keep the structural reasons in mind. We have to think about them when making decisions about whether to stay adjuncts and hold out for the "career" position or leave academe. Even current or prospective graduate students should bear them in mind rather than just thinking about the "market" in personal terms. Yeah, the job market is lousy, and one of the reasons it's lousy is that people keep holding out for something better. Don't do it! Resist the temptation. The profession is fucked whether you get a job or not, and if you A) do not have a tenure-track job already and/or B) would be unwilling to work towards reform of the system if you got one, just cut your losses and get out. It's better for you and better for the system.
While [some currently tenured and tenure-track professors] fault academe for producing too many doctorates when there is clearly not a big enough market within universities to absorb them, they still worry about the larger ripple effects of bright students turning away from careers in higher education in search of greater stability and a better shot at a middle-class life.Yes, that's right. As adjuncts, we are easily exploited by the neoliberal corporate university and the society that acquiesces (not knowing what its own best interests are, not recognizing that the long term effects of investing in higher education are more important than short term tax and budget cuts). But when we all leave? Well, that "impact" is worth pondering by all sides. I'm not a huge Ayn Rand fan (her admirers are the ones promoting cutting the taxes that fund public higher ed -- a policy, in part, to blame for the need for a cheap academic workforce), but her philosophy of "rational self-interest" has something to teach us. You're talented? Smart? Good at teaching? Recognized for original research? They know it, but they want you to forget -- and they pay you accordingly. They pay you nothing so that you will continue to believe you are worth nothing -- and continue to work for the pay. Don't put up with it. Get out. If you're getting a barista's wages, or a secretary's, go work as a barista or a secretary. Don't teach college students. That work requires more of you. More knowledge. More skills. More training. More experience. All of which you have. Don't sell yourself short as an adjunct.
"The deterioration of talent will completely alter the academic profession,” said Hermanowicz of Georgia, “and its impact will be likely felt not only on the intellectual fabric of society, but on the nation's scientific and economic infrastructure."
And, lastly, from a comment to the article:
The point often missed in these rifts is that since the late 1980s, there have not been enough tenure-track jobs and far too many qualified people willing to teach for any wage and lacking benefits.Exactly my point. It's time to get out, do something else, and make the powers-that-be -- the administrators, the tenured faculty who are out-of-touch, the voters whose kids you've been teaching, the budget-slashing politicians whose kids you've been teaching -- that you're worth more than $20K a year. When you leave, they'll start to get the message.
(Whew. Three posts in one day! What have I been neglecting?)