Angry About Adjuncting? Inside Higher Ed, October 16 2017

Recently I stumbled across an article in The New York Timesabout my favorite topic: online academic rage — and whether it spikes among those frustrated by the struggle to find a tenure-stream job. “Is there something about adjunct faculty members that makes them prone to outrageous political outbursts?” Colby College sociologist Neil Gross asked.

Citing recent examples in which the most vulnerable among us have been fired for an impolitic tweet or Facebook post, Gross argues that full-time faculty members are not the “tenured radicals” that American conservatives have feared since the 1990s. Instead, he proposes, the vast majority of full-timers are “tamed” by the prospects, or long-term comforts, of tenure. Research accounts, regular raises, the orderliness of being able to plan our lives and the satisfaction of promises kept inevitably sutures most of us to civility in all its forms.

But what incentives do workers who are already vulnerable in so many ways have to be polite? Although many people with humanities Ph.D.s do other jobs, this stubborn belief that they have trained for one thing, and one thing only, keeps many adjuncts on the hamster wheel long past a time when frustration and sorrow have turned to rage. Aside from the stress of trying to piece together a career one course at a time, the adjunct army — permanently contingent, underemployed, overworked and underpaid faculty members — has every reason to demand radical change.

But do these conditions produce a truly political radicalism, or are they simply radical utterances that get contingent faculty into trouble and leave a system that relies on a reserve army of labor unchanged? And since people with doctorates aren’t tied to a particular factory or industry, would the radical solution be to stop teaching as a per-course adjunct?

For the rest of this essay, go to Inside Higher Ed.

One Comment

  1. Well, there is certain labor market segmentation in the the HSS, and the need for instruction on most campuses has increased as enrollments have gone up. Marx noted in his early writings that occupational erosion during the industrial revolution also moved a portion of the middle class into the proletariat. It appears that adjuncts reside there, but are also counting on their colleagues, tenured faculty, to mount stronger opposition to occupational erosion, or perhaps develop a more pervasive occupational consciousness as white collar workers whose profession is currently eroding. It could be said that tenured faculty are next, during occupational erosion.

    Like

You Are Invited to Respond

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s