Don't overlook less mainstream sources of insightful commentary on academia and academic labor -- and in our own voices -- by limiting your reading to higher ed media and adjunct stories. Even cast your digital reading net beyond the Ivory Silo™ to include K12 bloggers. Advertising and other funding are factors too. Who influences editorial content? Follow the money and affiliations. You may not agree with independents, but at least they are less likely to be wearing a collar.
This is not to say don't read read mainstream higher ed media. Do read them -- just not to the exclusion of other sources or as a substitute for developing your own. The wider you cast that net, the better.
You are not special" by Jonathon Rees in More or Less Bunk and "Confronting Our Permanent Public University Austerity" by Chris Newfield in Remaking the University caught my attention to reread, share and bookmark.
Jonathon (we're on first name terms) takes Marx and Lori Harrison Kahan's Vitae article as starting points to lecture tenured faculty (he is one but hasn't always been) on realities of academic labor:
Every one of those disposable academics in your field would gladly fill your tenure track job at substantially less pay than you’re making right now. And why shouldn’t they? You probably aren’t doing very much to help them, so why should they help you? Moreover, plenty of administrators would gladly fire you and replace you with an adjunct if they thought they could get away with it.
What’s that, you say? You write articles, do you? Too bad only three people read half of all articles. And most of those university press books we all write aren’t exactly setting the world on fire either. Adjuncts and people fresh out of grad school can do the exact same things that existing tenured faculty can do.... for much, much less money.
Not without a few more insults, Jonathon appeals to self-interest: cooperation, working with us on equal footing is our last, best chance to save profession and institution. Neither tenured nor non are special, but we've been living with that fact.
Today's post is another pip:
Today's post is another pip:
So does that mean we faculty can relax now? After all, if we’re not extinct, we’re alive (if not exactly thriving); and if we’re alive, what is there to worry about?....The thing to worry about now in the post-MOOC world is exactly what our jobs will be like when they are infused with technology. Will we faculty run the technology or will the technology run us? Experiences in other industries suggest the latter rather than the former.That brings me straight to the next section.
More or Less Bunk: Jonathon mentioned on twitter (another good place to catch his and other links) that "You are not special" was his first adjunct blog in a while. He used to post more until (pre)occupied by MOOCs, the topic took over. I never saw it that way: the connection, academic labor, is clear. This post and today's signal a welcome return to his insights on adjunct concerns while continuing to connect them to overarching issues of technology and academic labor. If these two recent posts are not sufficient, check out past posts on academic labor, adjunct faculty and labor history, even his earlier Walmart blogging (talk about precarious labor). The refrigeration history posts are good reads too although making an adjunct connection could pose a challenge.Remaking the University: If I had to pick just one comprehensive source for higher education news, in depth posts, links, smart commentary it would be this blog (more about blog and bloggers Chris Newfield and Michael Meranze). Yes, over mainstream higher ed media. When I pack up my blog with links, viewer gadgets and features, this one was and still is my inspiration. Posts syndicated to Precarious Faculty on Facebook are only part of the richness. Michael Meranze's Latest Links are like another blog within the blog. Formerly posts, they now have their own section. There's another just for Documents for Dissidence
Michael Meranze's Latest LinksSee what I mean? It takes me separate blogs just to get in the same neighborhood. There are pages for guest posts and featured topics (like "Contingent Faculty Issues") too.
CASA: For a window into contingent faculty working conditions elsewhere, regular posts by and about"auscasuals," and a weekly review (noted below) of global casualization in the academic workforce, follow this one. I've already added most of their bloggers and Unicasual to precarity bloggers. Features include Actual casuals: share your stories, Change one thing, and The Case of the Missing Casuals
CASA's Weekly News: The focus is on Australia, but weekly news posts include Canada, US and the UK, CASA's global overview is Anglophone-centric. Quibble are few and picayune. Are there no adjuncts in New Zealand or South Africa? I know there are in India -- and having a harder time of it than we do -- because their stories show up in Global Higher Education news. Some US items seem to be selected primarily on their numbers. This last makes no never mind: I can get those and more for myself without a leg up from down under ~ and so should you. OTOH, an informed outsider's view of what is trending in our corner of the adjunctiverse is revealing and informative.
PS this post was to have included a brief introduction and introduction to latest blogroll ~ now up to 86 ~ additions but will save them for a separate post