Re: Ph.D in Cultural Anthropology

Susan S. Chin (
Sun, 10 Nov 1996 17:23:02 GMT wrote:
: Anthropology s dirty little secret is that very few of the grad students
: who assume that they are engaged in job training really are. What they are
: doing is getting an education while subsidizing their professors research
: and paychecks.

I can't speak for any other Anthropology student, but the undergraduate
research I was involved in provided invaluable research experience,
skills, insight and just the feeling that I was "a part of this great
study." If that's not enough, then I suppose one should reconsider going
to grad school. And if you feel as if all you are doing as a graduate
student (I wouldn't know not having gotten there yet) is subsidizing
someone else's research and pocketbook, then maybe you've chosen the
wrong Anthropology program to go into.

: >anthropology is EXTREMELY important and applicable to
: all of the numerous arenas of life, not just academics<

: The IMPORTANCE of anthropology is an entirely different issue, about which
: you will get no argument from this quarter. My issue is with grad students
: getting jobs. I do disagree that anthropology training has widespread
: direct application outside of the immediate discipline. The larger
: marketplace does not give a hoot how well versed a person is in
: infrastructural determinism, the new archaeology, or primate
: communication.

As I've been told, there may not be a whole lot of jobs out there, which
means only the best will get the few that are available. It's like that
in alot of professions. And anyone going into Anthropology as a career
should be willing to accept that it is a part of Anthropology.

: >graduate school forms a vital period of intellectual growth which
: one can later build upon, no matter what job s(he) holds<

: Even were this statement unequivocally true, there remains a huge amount
: of dishonesty in not being upfront with the students that most are really
: being trained to be better bankers, insurance salesmen, and the like, not
: professional anthropologists. My suspicion here is that in such cases the
: time invested in anthropology would be far better spent in training with
: direct application to those students eventual careers.

It's true that graduate school provides very specialized training geared
towards a career as a professional anthropologist, which doesn't always
materialize when all is said and your Ph.D dissertation is done, but
personally I'd rather spend 6-7 years studying what really matters to me
than to train for a profession where jobs are plentiful. In fact, I
already have one of those right now, and it didn't require a Ph.D (or
even a B.A. for that matter!) But we're talking about a whole nother
level of intellectual ability working in the everyday world, and that is
why people who pursue academics at the graduate level should do so for
the experience knowing at the end there may or may not be a job in
Anthropology for you, but the skills you've obtained will help you
find a job, somewhere.

: Keep in mind that according to the American Anthropological Association
: the average M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology is taking around nine years.
: Add a couple of years looking for a job in the discipline (while probably
: teaching as a part time instructor) and those who have been unsuccessful
: in finding work are very likely going to be flirting with forty years of
: age by the time they get on with their lives. In case you had not noticed,
: employers are not lining up to hire unemployed forty year olds. There
: seems to be a glut.

Hmmm, maybe I'm lucky then. Should worse case scenario come true, I'm
sure employers are more than willing to hire an unemployed but
*experienced* 40 year old (shudder) in my current field. That helps...