K16, would you please remind me, exactly what sort of academic experience do you have?
They are 'optional' only in the sense that this is a free country and no one has to work at any particular job. That said, the young academic, however loftily educated on paper he is, is not necessarily qualified to do much, and overqualified for most jobs... add that to the clear surplus of academics,
All of this is very well true.
and what one gets is the ability to exploit adjuncts for starvation wages, etc., people who often have little choice.
But this is not. Not even close. We DO have a choice. Really, we do. Nobody forces anyone to take a job. And some of us <gasp> accept responsiblity for the consequences of making that choice. Some of us even <bigger gasp> LIKE having made that choice.
Let's assume, as you do, that the problem stems from an overabundance of academics. If that's the problem, then requiring hiring schools to make "non-exploitative" offers to new adjuncts/academics is not the solution. You've got to fix the churning out of too many academics. Maybe instead of raising a ruckus about being "exploited," maybe those academics should make a ruckus out of it being easy for such a large number of people to get through the schooling required? Sounds like they're barking up the wrong tree. As usual.
But then again, I know you're bullheaded and always right, and I've said plenty on this "injustice" on other threads, so what does it matter anyway?
I can back this up with my own life experience. While I was finishing up my MA, I desperately wanted to get my PhD. I applied and was accepted into several programs, but the more I thought about it, getting a PhD did not make sense for a lot of reasons, the two most important among them:
1) First and foremost, I researched the job market in my academic field and realized how utterly over-saturated it is with PhDs. Unis are pumping out PhDs like crazy and I was honest enough with myself to recognize that my GRE scores were not going to get me into a program that would have maximized my potential for a TT job.
2) I did not want to go tens of thousands (or more) into debt only to graduate and have to take several adjunct positions on account of the TT job market. Even assuming that I was lucky enough to get a TT track position, the pay at an institution that is primarily oriented towards teaching wouldn't be anywhere near enough to justify the amount of debt I would have incurred.
Instead, I parlayed the knowledge and skills I gained in grad school into a good position in government with the knowledge that I can always teach on the side. While I don't LOVE my non-teaching day job, it was a much better decision for me in the long run than getting a PhD and gambling on the TT market.
The bottomline is that people usually find themselves in their current situation because of choices they make and continue to make. People in adjunct hell might have made a bad choice in getting a PhD years ago and might be making a bad choice in staying in adjunct land. While not the inspiring thing to say, sometimes the best decision is to give up on the ideal dream job (in this case, the TT track) and find one that pays the bills and offers benefits.
But slinger is dead right when he/she says that there is always a choice. No one is exploiting anyone who chooses to stay in a situation when there are better options available, even if it's outside the field that you thought you would work in.