The Dylan reference is probably unfair. But whenever I read a piece like this (“Value Students? Then Value Adjuncts“) I can’t help but feel more than a little frustrated. Academics– not just adjuncts– just don’t seem to understand the basic paradigms of power in a capitalist economy. I know that in part it’s just a figure of speech, but it’s absurd to ask the university to “care.”
It just does not work that way. No capitalist institution, no matter how rooted in the liberal arts (or organic foods or solar power or anything else) is going to willingly give up power over something as basic as labor costs. Adjuncts, especially in writing programs, like the author of the piece, are money making machines. Too often (but not always) they are very compliant money machines too.
The real problem, in the end, is that academia needs to give up its genteel notions of power and influence exercises through persuasion, specially in a written form. It borders on a kind of fetish– this notion that the way you change the university is by writing texts to persuade them that your cause is just. Writing is fine, but power comes from organization.