Rocking the Boat
I've blogged before about the abysmal labour market for archaeologists in Sweden, both at the graduate and the doctoral level. Judging from the unemployment rates, Sweden currently has no need for archaeology instruction at any level. The subject should be seen as strictly for transient students who harbour no hopes of making a living out of it. I've also discussed these issues in a trade union newsletter and recently on national TV.
The last couple of days I've received letters from two archaeology professors at a Scandinavian university, I'll call it Dingledongle. They're not happy. They really don't like me saying publicly what I've said. It's making things difficult for them. One said explicitly that it would hamper my career. (My career! Haha, that's a good one!)
The other one really disappointed me, because I like and respect him a lot. His take on the situation is that whereas it's true that in Scandinavia generally archaeology PhDs are a dime a dozen, in Dingledongle these people aren't unemployed.
My only response to that is that if the apparently plentiful post-doctoral archaeology jobs in Dingledongle were ever actually open for application from outside, then some of them might be taken by more qualified people from other parts of Scandinavia, and the unemployment would be more evenly distributed.
This guy also complained that his doctoral seminar is slowly becoming extinct as no new doctoral student's salaries have been forthcoming lately from the money people at the University of Dingledongle.
Well, my friend, a doctoral seminar isn't an end unto itself. It's a public utility whose function is to produce scholars to fill society's needs. And the unemployment rate for archaeology PhDs shows pretty plainly that Scandinavian society does not currently feel a need for more archaeology PhDs.
I don't understand these people. They're sitting in their little incubator, all warm and cozy. Then somebody outside in the cold suggests, through chattering teeth, that the incubator might not be of much use to society outside Dingledongle. And they get all worked up, expecting this person to shut his mouth because otherwise they might get chucked out into the cold too.
All I can say is, that's a mighty fine incubator you've got there. What's my loyalty worth to you guys?
Update 30 March: My friendly professor in Dingledongle has made an entertaining clarification. When he wrote that archaeology PhDs in his area aren't unemployed, he didn't mean that they have post-doc academic jobs. He meant that they have all returned to their pre-doc jobs in contract archaeology! Oh, goodie, they're working on highway digs for SEK 22000 a month! That's €2300, £1590, $2770 of which taxes take about 30%. Dear Reader, I rest my case.
[More blog entries about PhD, postdoc, archaeology, Sweden; doktorera, postdoc, arkeologi.]