Let’s get our labels straight – Adjunctification of Higher Education

Tweet (see below) from the Society Pages points to an important issue. Adjunctification effects the entire higher education system, not just those with PhDs. Students should be made aware that not all professors are paid equitably. If you didn’t know, adjunct professors are paid on an hourly basis which rarely covers time spent grading, preparing classes, and being available to students (in office hours, over email, or otherwise). Students you should be concerned. Why? Adjunct professors have little monetary incentive to provide you with the best education. In fact, it could be argued that adjunct contracts with universities are solely designed fill lecture time (comparable to TV’s talking heads filling airtime). They are not hired to educate. As such I agree with the article below that professors should bring light to issues around adjunctification and that a good first step towards instigating change is to reframe and claim the discourse (read George Lakoff for brilliant research and discussion on language framing for political change). So, let’s make sure to get our labels straight. Adjuncts, ask your students not to call you “professor,” but rather “adjunct lecturer.” Or at least something of that sort that brings light to wage disparities and better preserves the legitimate qualifications of adjuncts.

Also see the CUNY Adjunct Project.


One thought on “Let’s get our labels straight – Adjunctification of Higher Education

  1. Eline has pointed me to a very relevant paper by Pierre Bourdieu she happened to be reading today. I just have to leave a quote because it couldn’t be more fitting for this post:

    “…it is the symbolic scarcity of the title in the space of the names of professions that tends to govern the rewards of the occupation (and not the relationship between the supply of and demand for a particular form of labor). It follows from this that the rewards of the title tend to acquire autonomy with respect to the rewards of labor. Thus, the same work may receive different renumeration depending on the titles of the person who do it (e.g., tenured, official post holder as opposed to a part-timer or someone “acting” in that capacity, etc.). Since the title is in itself an institution (like language) that is more durable than the intrinsic characteristics of the work and, the rewards of the title may be maintained despite changes in the work and its relative value. It is not the relative value of the work that determines the value of the name, but the institutionalized value of the title that can be used as a means of defending or maintaining the value of the work”

    Bourdieu, Pierre. (1985). The Social Space and the Genesis of Groups. Theory and Society 14(6):723-744.


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