In this post I addressed the idea of the “academic economy” (and culture) being one in which we’re required to offer up our time without compensation, a holdover from a past time when more elite students would be attending (and would have more resources at their disposal).
In my opinion, this post never seems to lose its relevance; I see the issues I raised here being discussed and re-discussed regularly on Twitter and in other blogs. I’m raising the issue of a part of the “hidden curriculum” of graduate education, which is that we learn not only to work for free but also to de-value our own labour – within academe but also if we choose to leave and work elsewhere.
The changing demographics in graduate education over the past 30 years should be reason enough to question these assumptions. As it is, those with privilege will always find it easier to get ahead in an environment where not only do we have to work for free to earn the right of recognition, but we’re even expected to pay for the opportunity of sharing what we’ve done (i.e. the conference model). This long-standing arrangement is not one that supports inclusion, and I think that point should be made more often and more loudly, since graduate enrollments are expanding and the amount of financial support for their academic participation is diminishing.