The New Academic Labor Market and Graduate Students: Introduction to the Special Issue

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Brad Porfilio
Julie A. Gorlewski
Shelley Pineo-Jensen


Unlike some who point to faculty, students, administration or governance as the sources of the changing conditions within higher education and how the conditions impact the academic labor market and graduate students, the contributors and editors of this special issue recognize how the dominant ideological doctrine at today’s historical moment – neoliberalism – is largely responsible for the corporate nature of education, the rise and dominance of contingent faculty, and the withdrawal of the state resources from institutions of higher education. Some contributors to this issue elucidate how neoliberalism is responsible for their experiences as contingent faculty members and debt-ridden, freshly minted PhDs. Other authors provide critical historical insight as to how neoliberalism has come to impact intellectual contributions in the academy, whereas some scholars provide theoretical insight to lay bare the discursive systems that keep graduate students, academics, and citizens from confronting institutional structures, practices, and systems of knowledge, leading to the marginalization of academics and hobbling higher education from being equitable for all. Additionally, the collective scholarship in this special issue provides necessary guideposts and recommendations so that higher education becomes a “humanizing force in society, where the value of people is always a priority” (Giroux, 2001, p. 47), instead of a corporate force where greed, competition, vulnerability and suffering is the stark reality.

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