Fri, 3 Jun 1994 15:33:25 -0700

Dwight Read writes that the market for anthropology PhDs should not be driven
by the number of PhDs granted, but rather the number of PhDs granted should
reflect the job market. He's right to a certain extent, but I think ther's
more the the story.

The increase in the number of people applying to UCLA's graduate program is a
reflection of increased interest in anthropology. Enrollments are increasing,
which should mean that demand for academic anthropologists should be
increasing. But for a variety of reasons the demand, as measured by the number
of new hires, is not increasing and may actually be declining. If the job
market was driven by the number of people wanting to take anthropology classes,
there would be more jobs than there are today, even given that we don't always
do a very good job of encouraging people to study anthropology.

I don't think the terrible job situation is totally beyond our control. If we
do a better job of promoting our discipline to the general public, students and
university administrators, and of promoting higher education to the general
public and state legislatures things just might get better. Maybe there will
never be an academic job for everyone who wants one, but things don't have to
be as bad as they are now.

It is wrong to say that the current job situation is wholly a reflection of
market forces, and we just have to live with it. If we could just get to the
point where the job market was a reflection of market forces we would be better
off. Beyond that, there are probably things we can do to actually increase the

Jim Allison