Saturday, May 04, 2013

On Quitting

Chris Blattman links to an essay 'On Quitting' by Keiguro Macharia, which is a sometimes obscure meditation about his quitting an academic job in USA to go back to Kenya. It leads Blattman to meditate about his own career:
"His words bite. I remember a summer after my first year in grad school, working in rural Kenya alongside a cluster of ridiculously hardworking, intense academics whose names you would all recognize, thinking, “I do not want my life to be like this”.
Fast forward 10 years: I’m not sure if I was simply socialized by the PhD and my peers to change my preferences, or if I simply grew to love my work like a vocation, not a job. I think a little of both.
Either way, I am now the living caricature of what I once maligned. More days than not I love it. But the temptation of quitting–or at least crossing to the slow lane–never goes away. All I will say for now: not this year."
Off and on Macharia talked of 'precarity'.A specialist on 'precariat', Guy Standing( has a book  on the topic) and has a long discussion in a new article 'Defining the precariat':
"To understand why the precariat is growing one must appreciate the nature of the Global Transformation. The globalization era (1975-2008) was a period when the economy was "disembedded" from society as financiers and neo-liberal economists sought to create a global market economy based on competitiveness and individualism.....A central aspect of globalization can be summed up in one intimidating word, "commodification". This involves treating everything as a commodity, to be bought and sold, subject to market forces, with prices set by demand and supply, without effective "agency" (a capacity to resist). Commodification has been extended to every aspect of life – the family, education system, firm, labour institutions, social protection policy, unemployment, disability, occupational communities and politics."
I do not really understand what is bothering Macharia, drugs, race, commodification or what else. It seems to me that it is possible to play along in an institution and retain one's identity and interests, if one does not crave to be too successful. May be that was possible for earlier generations like mine and getting difficult now.

No comments: