Saturday, November 29, 2014

Workers Say, Academics Say

People at Work Say... Academics Say...
Get hired Get funding
Get a raise Get more funding
Work overtime Have a large courseload
Look for a job Go on the [job] market
Boss Adviser
Co-workers Colleagues
Work, the office Campus (or building name)
TGIF ABD (All But Dissertation)

Academia, I've noticed, carries with it a language all its own, often meant to distance the work performed by professors, adjunct faculty, research assistants, and graduate students from the language of traditional 9 to 5 office or labor jobs.  Money, for instance, is referred to less in terms of salaries or paychecks, but instead as funding, and those looking for a new job are said to be on the market (as if they were planning to purchase a new beach house or sport utility vehicle).

What is the purpose of such distancing?  Avoiding the language of the working world creates the impression that the tasks performed by academics aren't actually work at all, but something greater and more important.  This, however, makes more sense when referring to writing or research performed of one's own volition and far less sense when a research assistant performs the same data entry a low-ranking temp would be paid an hourly wage to type out in a cubicle.

Academic jobs involve work the same as any other jobs, and to pretend that they don't is to allow for the type of exploitation worthy of an Upton Sinclair novel.  Considering that academia is experiencing an adjunct crisis as more and more high-paying professor jobs with benefits are transferred to low-paying adjunct jobs with no benefits, one would think that academics everywhere would want to unite themselves with the rest of the workforce by not referring to the work they do as somehow deserving of its own vocabulary.

The new academia is a scary place.