Links I liked

  1. A list of some of the most spectacular Reddit posts of all time (with emphasis on the word spectacle)
  2. The New York Times giving us the naked truth on our Germanic friends: “Germans, known to credit oddly specific activities with salubrious effects (e.g. walking barefoot through damp grass), retain an atavistic faith in the advantages of full-body sun exposure, which was prescribed to tuberculosis patients in the late 19th century.”
  3. If you ever drink bottled water, read this (yes it will make you feel bad about yourself)
  4. An adjunct professor uses the occasion of his award speech to lambast the profession for exploiting adjuncts. As someone who studies sweatshop workers in Africa, I am hesitant to toss the word exploited around lightly, especially when it comes to some of the most highly educated people in the world. I am inclined to think and write more about this. It seems to me that simple supply and demand can get us pretty far towards an explanation, but not all the way. Is there any systematic economic analysis people have seen of the adjunct market and why the price/quantity relationship stands where it is?

6 thoughts on “Links I liked

  1. Critiques of Brennan and Magness’s paper:

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/03/17/paper-argues-adjuncts-push-better-pay-and-working-conditions-prohibitively-expensive

    I’d like to see an economic analysis based on an international comparison of academic labor markets. Alexandre Afonso’s paper points out that in some European academic job markets, entry-level positions with job security and opportunities for promotion are the norm rather than the exception:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1049096516001505

    This should lead us to ask what it is about American academia in particular that requires so many adjuncts, while other countries with good universities seem to do fine without them.

  2. I too buy the simple supply-demand hypothesis. That being said, I wonder if most adjuncts just genuinely do have very low marginal products of labor. When I started grad school in English lit, most of my peers were coming straight from undergrad and/or from marginal service jobs like bookstores or babysitting.

    I’m puzzled that more adjuncts don’t just start teaching high school. Maybe most don’t want to for status reasons.

  3. In many states, someone with a PhD and teaching experience wouldn’t be legally qualified to teach in a high school, and would would first have to get another degree (teaching certificate). That said, there are also plenty of states where private schools are common enough that this is presumably something of an option.

  4. I’m pretty amazed by your unsympathetic response to the issue of adjunct labor. Yes, they are not sweatshop workers in Africa – but that is deflecting the very real issues that adjuncts face in compensation, benefits, and so on. Additionally, they may have a great deal of education, but at least some of them have incurred substantial debt in doing so.