But it's not as if social capital is really separable from economic or cultural capital. These things go together. Unfortunately, though, cultural capital -- the thing we have the most of as an un- or underemployed post-academic -- is perhaps the least important when separated from the other two.
A Post-Academic in NYC has been posting lately about the
On the other hand ... filing? Filing?!??
I'm not being a snob. I'm not putting down mindless administrative tasks. Somebody needs to do them -- and get paid to do them. But I would bet that A Post-Academic in NYC has many other talents of greater use to society than filing. It's just that a PhD doesn't mean squat when you don't know anyone and don't have the economic capital to sit back and bide your time practicing your craft until the right "opportunity" comes along. You take what you can get.
Wouldn't it be nice, though, to be able to pick up the phone, call up your friend the editor of a major national journal, propose a topic for an essay you'd like to write, and be able to write what you want to write while building upon your already well-established reputation? Yes, dear readers, for some people it is that easy! No, you can't do this sort of thing if you're just some socially talented neanderthal or a rich jackass who has opinions but can't string together three coherent sentences. You do have to be a reasonably decent writer. You have to be tolerably smart. And you have to have a track record and an audience.
But ... how do you get those last two things (or whatever the professional equivalent is in your field) when your preeminent concern, now that you've left academe, is earning enough money just to get by?
Academics aren't known for their stellar social skills. The attraction of cultural capital -- which is something you can earn by being smart and studying and acquiring a fancy degree -- draws many people to academe who both lack social capital and don't have access to economic capital. I include myself in that group. As much as I enjoyed research and teaching, I pursued the path I did because, in part, belonging to "the profession" conferred a kind of status -- even as a graduate student and adjunct -- I didn't have access to any other way. Except ... when I left, it seemed, my career options were pretty much the same as they were when I finished undergrad. Here I am doing admin work. Yay! And there's no one I can call up to offer my talents and availability to do otherwise.
And what would I have to offer anyway? I'm a decent writer and tolerably smart. Tremendously distinguishing characteristics! Except ... not really. Not unless you have the other kinds of capital, too.