The perils of using supply and demand to justify contingent academic labour

“The argument [in academia] is that the supply of ‘good’ jobs is not sufficient, therefore, contingent faculty either must be satisfied with their usually meager pay, or do the only thing in their power … quit,” writes John Warner for Inside Higher Ed. One of the biggest problems with this argument, Warner notes, is that it describes labour decisions as though they exist outside concerns of ethics or morality, adding that “we have many mechanisms that interfere with or interrupt the ‘law’ of supply and demand – child labor laws, overtime regulations and a minimum wage just to name a few.” Warner highlights tenured professors as a particular group that should resist using the supply and demand argument to justify the existence of their precariously employed counterparts, concluding that “convenient deflections and oversimplifications of our labor structure like ‘it’s supply and demand’ are a denial of deeper realities, and it’s time to dispense with them.”

Inside Higher Ed

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