Re: Ph.D in Cultural Anthropology

Richard A. Goodman (
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 23:40:00 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.

>>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

>>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.

>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.


Since I am not an anthropologist, may I offer the comment that IMHO
the study of anthropology offers one of the most valuable insights
possible into one's place in this world and what one's place ought to

As for anthropologists with Ph. D.s who cannot find jobs, let them do
what many of the rest of us do -- make their own jobs by starting
their own businesses. It really is possible to make a living that

If you don't know how, e-mail me, I'll ask you a few questions, and
I'll give you some suggestions.

The Man Who's So Well-Rounded All He Can Do Is Roll,

Rich G