Academic systems rely on the existence of a supply of “outsiders” ready to forgo wages and employment security in exchange for the prospect of uncertain security, prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries that tenured positions entail. Drawing on data from the US, Germany and the UK, Alexandre Afonso looks at how the academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders.
In 2000, economist Steven Levitt and sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh published an article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics about the internal wage structure of a Chicago drug gang. This piece would later serve as a basis for a chapter in Levitt’s (and Dubner’s) best seller Freakonomics. The title of the chapter, “Why drug dealers still live with their moms”, was based on the finding that the income distribution within gangs was extremely skewed in favor of those at the top, while the rank-and-file street sellers earned even less than employees in legitimate low-skilled activities, let’s say at McDonald’s. They calculated $3.30 as the hourly rate, that is, well below a living wage (that’s why they still live with their moms).
If you take into account the risk of being shot by rival gangs, ending up in jail or being beaten up by your own hierarchy, you might wonder why anybody would work for such a low wage and at such dreadful working conditions instead of seeking employment at McDonald’s. Yet, gangs have no real difficulty in recruiting new members. The reason for this is that the prospect of future wealth, rather than current income and working conditions, is the main driver for people to stay in the business: low-level drug sellers forgo current income for (uncertain) future wealth. Rank-and file members are ready to face this risk to try to make it to the top, where life is good and money is flowing. It is very unlikely that they will make it (their mortality rate is insanely high) but they’re ready to “get rich or die trying”.
With a constant supply of new low-level drug sellers entering the market and ready to be exploited, drug lords can become increasingly rich without redistributing their wealth towards the bottom. There is an expanding mass of rank-and-file “outsiders” ready to forgo income for future wealth, and a small core of “insiders” securing incomes largely at the expense of the mass. We can call it a winner-take-all market.
Academia as a Dual Labour Market
The academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders. Even if the probability that you might get shot in academia is relatively small (unless you mark student papers very harshly), one can observe similar dynamics. Academia is only one example of this trend, but it affects labour markets virtually everywhere. An important topic of research for labour market scholars at the moment is what we call “dualisation”. Dualisation is the strengthening of this divide between insiders in secure, stable employment and outsiders in fixed-term, precarious employment. Academic systems more or less everywhere rely at least to some extent on the existence of a supply of “outsiders” ready to forgo wages and employment security in exchange for the prospect of uncertain security, prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries that tenured positions entail.
Figure 1. Source: OECD
How can we explain this trend? One of the underlying structural factors has been the massive expansion in the number of PhDs all across the OECD. Figure 1 shows the proportion of PhD holders as a proportion of the corresponding age cohort in a number of OECD countries at two points in time, in 2000 and 2009. As you can see, this share has increased by about 50% in 9 years, and this increase has been particularly pronounced in countries such as Portugal, Greece or Slovakia, where it nearly tripled, however from a low starting level. Even in countries with an already high share, the increase has been substantial: 60% in the UK, or nearly 30% in Germany. Since 2000 the number of OECD-area doctorates has increased at an average of 5% a year.
So what you have is an increasing number of PhD graduates arriving every year into the market hoping to secure a permanent position as a professor and enjoying freedom and – reasonably – high salaries, a bit like the rank-and-file drug dealer hoping to become a drug lord. To achieve that, they are ready to forgo the income and security that they could have in other areas of employment by accepting insecure working conditions in the hope of securing jobs that are not expanding at the same rate. Because of the increasing inflow of potential outsiders ready to accept this kind of working conditions, this allows insiders to outsource a number of their tasks onto them, especially teaching, in a context where there are increasing pressures for research and publishing. The result is that the core is shrinking, the periphery is expanding, and the core is increasingly dependent on the periphery. In many countries, universities rely to an increasing extent on an “industrial reserve army” of academics working on casual contracts because of this system of incentives.
Varieties of Dualisation
The developments outlined above are broad dynamics that span across almost all advanced industrial countries. However, the boundary of the insider and outsider group varies across countries, for instance between the United States, Germany and Britain.
In the United States, numbers from the department of education reported in The Atlantic (Figure 2 below) show that more than 40% of teaching staff at universities are now part-time faculty without tenure, or adjunct lecturers paid per course given, with no health insurance or the kind of other things associated with a standard employment relationship. As you can see from the graph, the share of permanent tenured faculty has shrunk dramatically. This doesn’t mean that the absolute number of faculty has diminished, it has actually increased substantially, but it has been massively outpaced by the expansion of teaching staff with precarious jobs and on low incomes. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported about adjunct lecturers relying on food stamps. The person mentioned in the article declares a take-home pay of $900 per month, which is sadly not that far away from the $3 hourly rate of the drug dealer, but for a much more skilled job.
Figure 2. Source: American Association of University Professors
Germany is another case where there has traditionally been a strong insider-outsider divide, essentially because of the hourglass structure of the academic job market. On the one hand, there are relatively good conditions at the bottom at the PhD level, and opportunities have expanded recently because of massive investments in research programs and doctoral schools generating a mass of new very competitive PhDs. On the other hand, there are good jobs at the top, where full professors are comparatively well paid and have a great deal of autonomy. The problem is that there is nothing in the middle: for people who just received their PhD, there is just a big hole, in which they have to face a period of limbo in fixed-term contracts (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter) or substitute professor (Vertretungsprofessur) for a number of years, after which they can hope to get their first permanent job in their mid-40s, while this could happen ion their mid-30s in the 1970s.
Figure 3 shows the average age of the PhD, for the habilitation and the first professorship in political science between the 1970s and 1990s. The age of the PhD hasn’t changed substantially but the age of the first professorship has increased by about 5 years. Also, it must be taken into account that there is a selection effect: the people in the sample are only those who have made it to the professorship, and it does not take into account all of those that have dropped out during the academic limbo. A number or new types or positions in the middle, such as the Juniorprofessuren have ben created, but most of them are also limited in time and are therefoe not the equivalent of tenure-track positions. Germany is the country of financial prudence, and both regional and federal governments have been reluctant to commit to fund programs and positions on a permanent basis.
Figure 3. Source: Arendes, C., and H. Buchstein (2004): 22
This academic limbo is accentuated by the fact that in some disciplines, it has become common for tenured professors to apply for professorships in order to negotiate their own working conditions with their own university. The result of this is that it is very difficult for recent PhDs to compete with established professors, and hiring processes tend to last a very long time as many candidates refuse and take time to bargain back and forth. The main problem of this practice is time, that academics in permanent positions have but outsiders don’t have. You cannot wait two years when a university is negotiating with somebody who will eventually refuse if you are on a fixed-term contract. This is a really perverse and insider-oriented system, especially as the period after the PhD is also often the one when individuals start a family.
The United Kingdom differs from Germany in the sense that it does have intermediate permanent positions for people finishing their PhD. Britain is the biggest academic market in Europe and lectureships provide secure employment for relatively young academics even if the starting salary is somewhat lower than elsewhere if you take into account living costs, especially in London. However, this does not mean that British higher education does not rely on a large industrial workforce of outsiders as well. Recently, the Guardian reported on the prevalence of so called “zero-hour contracts” at UK universities. These are contracts which do not specify the number of hours a teacher/researcher is supposed to give, and basically imply that the workers needs to be available to her employer when there is work. Compared to Continental Europe, what is striking is the much more precarious employment situation of PhD students and teaching assistants, who provide a large part of the teaching of British universities, and whose employment conditions are much more casual than what one can see elsewhere. To give an example, when I did my PhD in Switzerland, I was basically a public employee paid to teach with a corresponding salary, pension contributions, welfare entitlements. A large proportion of PhD students in the UK do not have regular sources of funding, need to apply here and there to get scholarships, and when they teach, they are paid per hour taught or a piece rate (exam/essay marked) that can vary across and even within universities.
The number of hours usually taught at UK universities is relatively moderate, at least at Russell-Group universities, because of a heavier focus on essays and independent work from students, but also partly because departments can rely on this flexible workforce. This has been accentuated by the strong constraints set on universities in terms of research and publication through the REF (Research Excellence Framework). This happens through two channels. First, as research is what is most valued, this creates incentives for established professors to retreat from teaching and secure research grants and publications instead, leaving teaching to casual teaching staff. On the other hand, some universities have advertised a number of temporary positions just because of the REF in order to use people’s publications in their submissions. There is no guarantee that universities are going to keep these people once they have “used” them.
Figure 4 summarizes in broad terms the differences outlined above. As I can see it, this form of insider/outsider divide exists everywhere and is probably expanding. The interesting thing is that these divides are largely structural in the sense that the system simply could not work without this large supply of outsiders ready to accept any kind of employment contract. If you are mobile, strategic and concerned with employment conditions, you might want to exploit these differences and avoid the outsider boxes at different stages of your career. This would mean avoiding the UK for your PhD and avoiding Germany after your PhD. Of course, the employment status is not the only element to take into account, but “prestige” or “learning” are too often used to justify bad employment conditions by tenured faculty or ever more powerful university administrators.
Previous versions of this paper have been presented on November 19 at the European University Institute’s Academic Careers Observatory Conference, and posted on Alexandre Afonso’s Blog.
Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the Impact of Social Science blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our Comments Policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.
Alexandre Afonso is Lecturer in Comparative Politics in the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London. His main areas of research are welfare state reforms, labour market policies, labour migration policies and the role of parties and organized interests in these domains. Twitter @alexandreafonso
Comment from Francois van Schalkwyk (via email):
“As you can see, this share has increased by about 50% in 9 years, and this increase has been particularly pronounced in countries such as Portugal, Greece or Slovakia, where it nearly tripled, however from a low starting level.”
Ditto for the BRICS countries and other rapidly developing countries where large investments are being made in increasing PhD output in the belief that number of PhD graduates is correlated with economic development. It would be interesting to compare these systems with the more established US, UK and German HE systems referred to in your article.
Also, can we safely assume that PhD graduates are only interested in positions at universities? It would be useful to know what proportion of PhDs are employed in other sectors outside of academia, and whether any shifts are apparent. (Not that these alternatively pathways necessarily impact on the over-supply of PhDs.)
Francois van Schalkwyk
In Portugal, only 4% of PhD are working outside academia
interesting view and fact
This is also an equality of opportunities issue because many people simple cannot choose to forgo wages.
Also is there not a gap between PhD and being in a position to get a lectureship in the UK? For a lecturer role you typically need at couple of publications in leading journals. Unless the PhD student has concentrated on getting these rather than completing their thesis it is not realistic for them to have them straight out of PhD (in many subjects). I think there is a gap in postdoctoral opportunities in the Uk that would give researchers the time to get publications completed. What there are are 1 year or 9 month lecturing jobs. I saw one recently advertised that was ‘part time’ so as to only pay 50% of the salary and only lasted 9 months. The teaching load was 4 courses a term and the pay worked out at around 12000 pounds.
The German system may be better at this first three years post PhD stage. It is just much worse after this because there are no permanent lecturer positions.
I can’t help but comment. I went out on the market while I was a JRF at Oxford. My PhD is from a private elite US uni-Duke. I went on both UK and US markets. Being from the US, and an ‘outsider’ to the UK system, it took me a while to figure out what the REF was.
The article is accurate about starting salaries. try living on $1,900-$2,200 in NYC or Boston or D.C.. that’s the equivalent in GBP for the Russell Group London schools KCL, UCL. compare that with the US where R1 salaries are around 4-5 k a month, this is public data, so not a secret-except for the’salary compression’ schools (also check the turnover, high turnover means non competitive salaries),. True about teaching. compare the hours. US R1 loads except for the elite privates are 2-2 at 34 weeks approx, X6=204 hours teaching not counting office hours. UK system 2 ‘terms’ teaching at 11 X2=22 weeks. 1-1 or 2-1 load. 1 hour per class. that is 44-66 hours teaching and some schools don’t require office hours. that would beg the question of whether we’re paid more b/c of the higher teaching, but no. As for the research, as I said in the UK no matter what they say quantity over quality. Please, if you count International Studies Review, and Millennium as receiving a 4 same as AJPS/JOP/APSR simply b/c so and so publishes in it, then there is something wrong here. In short, I agree with the poster above. the JRFs were there to provide the time to publish but some require publications to begin with-Nuffield Prize Research Fellowships for one. I had a different one and because my alma mater did not prioritize getting students to publish, I,like my peers graduated with zero, and with zero experience publishing, and zero in the pipeline. I had 2 pubs , both solo and one high impact, the other mid tier by the time I went on the market. Being three years out, I did not qualify for early career and could not get the REF ‘downgrade’ -so in a nutshell, though the Master of our College at Oxford described the REF as a ‘successful form of social engineering’ it artificially distorts the market toward seniors, creates incentives to ‘import Fulls and Assocs from US schools’, and maybe worse, privileges the graduate students and Fellows who have mentors with whom they published at least 4 pieces, losing potential to the US.
Too many acronyms/abbreviations. Perhaps some of us do not understand the “insider” lingo. Could you please try saying this in English.
Agreed on the insider language – I understand some of this having worked in Europe and North America, but it sounds rather like a rather corporate approach to a job search. The people I hire (I’m a senior prof.) are passionate nice people, who have the ability to ‘perform’ in future perhaps if this is not yet present on their cv, but their personal characteristics are not individualistically careerist – those don’t get hired. I also don’t care less about the REF, past ensuring they are likely to have one decent publication in a couple of years.
I think this must vary a lot by discipline. I am American & did a UK PhD; didn’t get a JRF but had 3 publications when exiting the PhD, one in a top journal. I then had a book chapter and another publication right after while adjuncting. Then I started getting interviews, had a full time temp teaching role in the UK, published a book, good great reviews, good two teaching awards… still have no had full time work since the one gig (2015-16). Now giving up. So, even if you tick ALL the boxes, it is a total crap shoot. I wish I could remember where I saw it but someone wrote a great blog post (or maybe Twitter thread) about how it is not ever a meritocracy and actually getting a proper job depends on nothing more than pure luck. I’d have to agree!
And never forget that autocorrect needs proofreading before posting – LOL! (I’m not illiterate. “good” should be “got” where obvious!
I did not understand what was going on in this Academia Market before I started looking for a job! It’s sad to give up and to be on the peripheral side of the “supply”. I am in a R-I university in the U.S. (not highly ranked though), it is just very very unusual for anybody in our program (education) to get a faculty position even after many years of graduation with a Ph.D. degree. Even if anybody has an faculty position-offer, it’s from a non-research intense much lower ranking institution.
A conclusion from your article could be perhaps that academia is then a highly organized and efficient system, that could serve as a model for another tyoe of enterprises. In that, I think you are absolutely correct. Many of your other assumptions and conclusions leave out the fact that many in academia have studied a lifetime to become professors at higher education institutions because someone knowledgeable and worthy of admiration inspired them to do so. Many dedicated professors absolutely love teaching and making a difference in the intellectual and economic life of their students. Many become disappointed because they want the big bucks in return for their years of study without a purpose. If their objective was the big bucks and a research position in a big university, well, welcome to the reality that they are probably not yet fit for those positions.. Academia does not ressemble a drug gang. Criminals are not stupid, they modeled their unholy business from a system that has proven efficient until now, not the other way around.
And how do you reach the conclusion that “academia is then a highly organized and efficient system” from what the author wrote?
I am in academia, I started my academic career out of a strong vocation but now I am here because I like to eat every day, you know. I do feel very disappointed because instead of an institution with the high values I want to see, I am part of a machine designed to mass-produce skilled workers, and all my sacrifices have led me, at most, to a relatively stable job (never to get rich with it) with relatively high level of stress, repetitive menial tasks, and a strong sense of lack of purpose. Many around me are like this, and not because of the big bucks but out of learning how meaningless academia can be.
Academia and many other systems live on the principle described here. Criminals didn’t copy academia or the other way around, it is probably a rather natural system once you fall in certain patterns of “few rich and many who want it” inequality.
I almost agree David. Because I graduated older, my only recourse seemed to be getting adjunct positions, even in a field like computer science, and I didn’t want a research or die position, and also didn’t want to move into the middle of nowhere. However, being adjunct is like being a camp councilor. It pays very little and you are expected to be there all the time. I actually made more as a Graduate Assistant 20 years ago doing my Masters for the same goddamn job! And we are not factoring in inflation here, just straight numbers. If I calculated the tuition and gave the school a generous amount of overhead, I should have been making 5-6 times what I was making for each class. I’ll never do that again, especially when my own university has increased its middle tier management 440% over the last 20 years, not even to mention the sports teams, and tenured faculty has lowered due to attrition and the new supply is coming strictly from adjuncts. They are either graduate students or recent graduates hoping to make it big (a resume builder). And there seem to be a mile of them lined up at the door, which is why the salaries are so low. I can see what the poster is talking about, but they are all being taken advantage of. They are like that camp councilor who works for a $800 for the summer while the kids pay $2500/week to be at the camp. I don’t get it.
I appreciate the work as performed and provided by the author on this web link, I am not providing a feedback:
Academia is not doing its real job which is “Learning and Development”. Academia has become a mere testing agency based upon ”Prepare” “Welcome” “Prepare” “Pass/Fail” “Leave”. Institutes were developed for learning and development and not for testing or sieving/segregating human beings as “pass/fail”. Focus on research is important so that people learn and develop, knowledge/research can never be tagged as pass and fail, research is a continuum it flows so that institutes breathe fresh and everything evolves, what is important is “appropriateness” and not “pass/fail”. In short, when inside an institute, don’t test like a shop floor quality manager rather realize as an instructor that whether I have understood the 3 Newtonian laws exactly as Sir Isaac Newton wanted, don’t just provide a “pass/fail” sheet to me I am here inside an institute and I want to learn and develop, I am not a non-living product I am a human being, I believe an institute can make a person learn and develop if it is an institute, “The Institute”. The first job for each institute existing at present is to know what is appropriate for the institute globally so that the institute in real becomes globally The Institute, even this demands research. Learning and development is the path, and not institute rankings#1,2,3,… and not “pass/fail”. When a person enters inside an institute he/she should leave it not as a pass/fail alumni/person but only as “The Institute” in itself. “Drop-out” has become a fashion word, I believe that a drop-out with “learning and development” becomes Steve Jobs, and a drop-out with “no learning and development” is told go and search jobs. If it is “The Institute” then it is not possible that it cannot help human beings learn and develop appropriately (naturally), then it is not possible for “The Institute” to just find an easy route tagging people as “pass/fail”, institutes are renouncing their real duty and are only focusing on money making work handing over degree certificates, they are sieving out of already sieved population and exaggerating on segregating and not catering globally the innate vibes of “learning and development” just because institutes have developed a lethargic sheath and want to adhere to an easy, ridiculous and inappropriate method of “pass/fail”. If we observe “pass/fail” is also very similar to “let them live/let them die”, if this is the scenario of all existing institutes worldwide, then institutes are transparently showing that they are mere testing agencies be it for students or professors or lecturers or staff or administration, in short institutes are not catering society directly they are identifying conflicts non-academically and are trying to show that they are the real academic centers ranked as # 1,2,3,… on the planet, if it is “The Institute” its rank should be nothing and should resolve the non-researched academic conflicts globally. The world needs an updated education scenario and not just sheets of paper printed “pass/fail”. The lecturers should be allowed to source funding for research, the students should be allowed to source funding for research, the professors should be allowed to source funding for research when and if it is all about learning and development. In this world any person and especially he/she serving inside “The Institute” should be allowed to right a proposal for grants and not only professors. No one is the owner of an academic right, only a thought is the real owner, the director of the movie in real “The Institute”. Knowledge is a “Universal” field and not just a “Professor” field. If a professor can write one of the best proposals then why cannot he/she make students and lecturers “learn and develop” to write one of the best proposals inside the same premises which is meant for learning and development, the job of institutes should be to cater a non-ego academic environment and not a stratified discriminatory system whose roots are exposed in “pass/fail”. this “pass/fail” labeling is what is stopping a knowledgeable person to be adapted as a part-time lecturer into a system where he/she cannot develop his/her research laboratory and is only allowed to teach for to produce people those who subsequently are tagged as “pass/fail” when tested for knowing the 3 Newtonian Laws, therefore institutes should first focus on what is an appropriate atmosphere where one can teach and the other can learn the 3 Newtonian Laws and not on “pass/fail”, “The Institute” should focus on how we learn and develop. Teaching and research goes hand in hand, if a professor only performs research it is because he/she only is accepted as a person in layered/stratified society who can write proposals, and this should not be the case in the very same society where knowledge is universal. We are human beings we all have a brain and we develop appropriate institutes globally with the universal mind.
Thanks for reading,
May an institute realizes and transcends towards “The Institute” to make any person “The Institute”
See “Piled Higher ad Deeper” since 1997. http://phdcomics.com/comics.php
“Piled Higher and Deeper” is just for entertainment. It offers no real insights.
It is somewhat fascinating if not greatly disturbing as well that academia can experience its own personal and private reality and not recognize this same process as only a model for the rest of the economic/market driven/ profit centered/ opportunism & exploitation / socially and politically brokered / licensed / credited (financially) vs accredited world around them. Strip all the pomp and it becomes barriers to entry and Return On Investments (ROI) and the actual dedication to “academic” discipline and integrity becomes marginalized. Paper chase begets paper (monetary) chase. The University system itself is breeding this core incentive and we have allowed the Universities to become corporatist leaders as long as they serve our own interests. Unfortunately the incipient ponzi structure eventually can not support a market oriented academia on its own back, and the people in positions of power write more market publications lamenting the dire situation and inhumane processes of inequality …of course that “others” have perpetrated on society and the human condition at large.
It’s called the ‘jackpot’ or ‘casino’ economy and several sociologists have been discussing this for years in several files–Andrew Ross for one of many examples. In the Management world there is also a variety called Tournament Theory.
In Figure 4, the US bottom box (PhD students?) has a blue background and white font, while the other boxes with blue background (outsiders) have black font. Does this signify something?
Whats not that nice maybe is that the motivation for us to undergo the supposed “ordeal of academic life” is reduced to: prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries.
I’d say that there are other socio-psychological drivers e.g. doing something worthwhile, enjoy the company of nice interesting people, being close to inspirational “academic gurus” etc, which may be much more important than salaries for example (or even prestige & freedom). This however does not necessarily destroy the analogy with the drug gang :-), where similar or other socio-psychological drivers may be at play.
One could studies such drivers by asking academics about what they think they ‘d miss most if they’d decide to leave academia for a radically different professional setting. For me I think it would definitely be the exchanges with people who have similar concerns and world views i.e. the peer group.
Exactly. I like the teaching [which more than earns my salary] and the exchanges. Research can be written up and conducted off campus. I have to do management duties and jump through a lot of hoops, but since neoliberal market-facing restructuring kicked in, I don’t identify much with the institutional mission, or with careerist individuals around the campus with their massive grants and early promotions. People like me, critics of the system and nonconformist, can experience rocky employment status, but staying in a university is a choice rather than a necessity. For younger scholars struggling, who I mentor a lot, I always reinforce that a uni is not the only place to make use of a PhD.
http://philosophymetablog.blogspot.com/ is back
I’m glad these important and outstanding issues are being discussed more these days.
As Andrew Miller alluded to, there is a lot of ambiguity in figure 4: What does the color of text indicate? What does a box having a blue background indicate (just emphasizing outsiders?)? What does the width of a box indicate? Is there any significance to the rectangles in the upper right corner? I can make a guess on most of these, but as it stands the figure is not very useful.
The question is, who’s going to tell all the PhD applicants that they’re screwed before they even start? No-one? Because academics get to put PhD students on their own CVs, and get extra points, and points mean prizes in terms of promotions and ref scores, and it’s better to deceive them now and let them find out the hard way, after they’ve graduated, that they’ve wasted years of their life and £££ of their own money to end up largely unemployable because most people outside of academia don’t give a toss about PhDs?
That’s what I thought.
Its interesting to note the differences of growth (in numbers) among different positions in academia. This leads us to believe that one may consider that over a period of few decades, especially in non-research institutions, few permanent / tenured faculty may be employed only for coordinating programmes, rest will be delivered by visiting faculty.
Well, for us PhD students, the important thing is to realise early that not all PhD graduates will be getting a tenured position. There are other career options, such as policy-making, consulting, etc. Of course, it is best that one already have a concrete plan during their PhD study.
As for academic positions, the “limbo” as the article mention is considered as a testing grounds for junior academics. I’ve heard one senior academic complain about the qualities of his juniors, citing a general impatience as the generic attribute of the “instant generation”. I don’t know if this is true, apparently, they believe that they endured and persevered through the same conditions as today. He felt that academics today are just more likely to complain than his generation. I offer no comment to that.
I have a feeling that most who get into drug gangs don’t do it for the reasons stated. It’s a way of earning without having to interview, or discuss qualifications or deal with people outside your familiar environment. Plus many start young, you can’t work at McDonald’s if you’re 12. Add to that the idea for a few of making money from something you’re already involved in.
Having said all that, there are still definite similarities with how many people get into academia! Staying within the familiar environment, not wanting to deal with people ‘in suits’, translating your ‘hobby’ into earnings.
I dealt with the differences in tenure/non tenure employment in North America and the rest of the world, and the different national academic employment systems, here. I also identified the natural creation of an underclass in the US tenure system, where it is obvious that there are not enough tenure track positions to satisfy demand. Tenure is responsible for this. free download http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2304/pfie.2008.6.3.286