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The parallel between publishing and academia

This description of life within the publishing industry, from Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley loc 133, struck a chord with me:

Every assistant I knew quietly relied on a secondary source of income: copyediting, bartending, waitressing, generous relatives. These cash flows were rarely disclosed to anyone but each other. It was an indignity to talk about money when our superiors, who ordered poached salmon and glasses of rosé at lunch, seemed to consider low pay a rite of passage, rather than systemic exploitation in which they might feel some solidarity. Solidarity, specifically, with us. The truth was that we were expendable. There were more English majors with independent financial support and strings of unpaid literary internships than there were open positions at agencies and houses. The talent pool was self-replenishing. Men in beige desert boots and women in mustard-yellow cardigans waited in the wings, clutching their cream-colored résumés. The industry relied, to some degree, on a high rate of attrition. Still, my publishing friends and I were stubborn. We liked working with books; we clung to our cultural capital. There was a pervasive resentment around paying our dues, but we were prepared to pay them.

This later statement about the cultural prohibition on acknowledging the transactional character to employment range true as well. From loc 2284:

how it was frowned upon to acknowledge that a tech job was a transaction rather than a noble mission or a seat on a rocket ship. In this respect, it was not unlike book publishing: talking about doing work for money felt like screaming the safe word. While perhaps not unique to tech—it may even have been endemic to a generation—the expectation was overbearing.

Categories: Digital Sociology of Higher Education The Platform University The Transformation of Academic Practice

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