Conclusion: Weblogs and Change

In the institution of higher education, the adjunct has a unique position in the hierarchy. The individual person working as an adjunct has several options for dealing with the institution, including but not limited to:

  • Working for large-scale institutional change in the form of job security, benefits, and parental leave by joining unions or other organizations
  • Choosing an entrepreneurial strategy by working at several colleges at once
  • Accepting the situation as it is and doing nothing
  • Leaving academia altogether

Recently, Invisible Adjunct announced her choice to leave. Amanda, a frequent participant in discussions on Invisible Adjunct, is currently looking for positions outside of academia, and Rana is pursuing a career in writing and museum work. Mister B.S. is also planning on leaving academia.

Will the conversations at Invisible Adjunct, taken by themselves, facilitate any fundamental change in the institution? Probably not, but I would argue that they have played a role in these people's lives, and they will most likely have an influence on others' lives in the future. In an email, Amanda writes,

IA's site did have a big impact on my thinking about leaving
academia. I found it right around the time I was finally making up my
mind to look for nonacademic jobs, and I sometimes think I might still be
second-guessing myself if I hadn't realized how many people out there are
wrestling with the same questions.

Such tactics of resistance, albeit on a small scale, are bringing about change. Unfortunately, such change is not freedom in an unequivocal sense. Rana writes,

[W]hile the majority of posters on IA's site find fault
with the institution and the blindness of the established to the struggles of the part-timer, they are not opposed to the larger goals of academic endeavor. Indeed, one of the things that made IA's site so powerful was that it -- and many of the posters -- acknowledged that real pain comes from feeling denied a place within a vocation, from being excluded from or to the margins of a world oft longed for. Even now being "free" from academia is bittersweet. (Many of us, including myself, are still suffering from "post-academic stress syndrome" even though the healing has begun.)

In this essay, I do not intend to claim that the weblog is an emancipatory genre. Like any genre, it can be used to serve multiple and competing interests, but in this case, it is a familiar genre that continues to bring people together to question and critique institutional practices and to propose institutional reform.