It is with some sadness that I feel I must write this, but, the situation has gotten so dire that people need to realize what’s going on in the humanities job market. Although I’ve written about the value of degrees in history and english, and I’ve also written in my “Who am I?” section, about how much my wife and I have enjoyed being graduate students in the humanities, I must also say that all of those things are only fun if you know that you have a decent job waiting for you at the end of it all. Even through the 1990s, when I entered grad school, the job market was desperate, but, still, if you were actually talented, you could expect to get a job within a year or two of graduating. Only losers had to be ‘adjuncts’ for more than a year, and only true losers stayed being adjuncts for more than 3-4 years.
Unfortunately, the adoption of the business efficiency model by MBA-trained administrators in universities throughout the western world, which began in the 1980s and has reached a cresendo in the mid 2000s, has meant that the ‘human’ spaces in the university job model have quite rapidly been squeezed out by professional ‘efficiency maximizers’ who have been hired to minimize cost and maximize revenue. While that is a great idea in theory, what it means is that people, and their lives, have basically been squeezed out of the profession. In sum, while up to 80% of university teaching was done by tenured full-time faculty through the 1970s, by the mid-2000s, something like 25% of teaching was being done by full-time tenured faculty.
Why is this? (more…)