Re: Grad Students and Jobs, among other thin

Willard Brooks (willard@MERCURY.SFSU.EDU)
Wed, 8 Jun 1994 23:04:07 -0700

On Wed, 8 Jun 1994, Read, Dwight ANTHRO wrote:

> Do students apply to and begin graduate studies
> thinking that it is LIKELY they will be able to get an academic job at the
> other end? If so, then those of us involved in admissions should provide
> realistic information to applicants so that they don't begin 6-10 years of
> study for the wrong reason. ...there is also the suggestion ...that a
> fair number of graduates begin their studies with little realistic
> information about the prospects of employment and might have chosen
> a different path if they had had more information. Is this an accurate
> assessment?

Yes, in many cases I think it is.

The aspirations of graduate students are very much influenced and
structured by the words and attitudes of undergraduate professors. Many
of my undergraduate profs told me that -due to retirement- there would
be a larger number of open tenure track positions available in the
university beginning about midway through the 90's. However, instead,
university are "downsizing" with the fallout being the overproduction of
PhD's and the creation of an overeducated "elite" of lumpenized
lecturers (resreve army of academic laborers) who are filling the gaps
where tenured faculty once sat. On top of this narrowing is the current
demographic bottleneck wherby in the wake of our collective colonial
sins we are now trying to compensate by filling our departments with the
so-called "underepresented." (This is something like the guilt that
many post-war Germans feel... in this sense anthropology is the Germany
of academia).

A very good essay related to this is Rabinow's in "Recapturing Anthropology."