Caveat emptor

Tue Sep 17 20:33:05 UTC 2013

No, apparently you do not understand correctly. No doubt because I was unclear.

This is nothing more than a question of cost-benefit analysis. Someone pays for PhD programs. You can set their return value monetarily or in any other way. But you must be able to measure it and those who pay for it must agree that it was worth it.

If a PhD student pays their own way, then it is up to them whether it was worth it.

If society/private foundation/etc contributes, then they share the right to evaluate their investment.

-- Dan

On Sep 17, 2013, at 4:29 PM, Bernhard Waelchli wrote:

> If I understand this correctly Dan argues that linguists are subject to durability of behavioral dispositions (hystérésis de l’habitus in Pierre Bourdieu’s 1980: 104-5 terms: the phenomenon of agents who have been socialized in a certain social world preserving their style of behavior to a large extent, even if the behavior has become non-efficient after, for instance, a brutal historical evolution, such as a revolution, that has made disappear the old world). In other words, that we are all Don Quichotes and hire poor Ph.D. students as Sancho Panzas thus ruining their chance for a life in prosperity and peace.
> It is certainly useful to reflect about this option for a while. However, in considering it it is important to recognize that economic capital is not the only kind of capital in society. There is even - excuse me for coming with Bourdieu once more, but he was a clever guy even if he criticized linguists -
> (i) symbolic capital (refers to all forms of capital [cultural, social, or economic] with special recognition in society,
> (ii) social capital (measures the resources related to the possession of a durable network of relationships and mutual recognition), and
> (iii) cultural capital (measures all the cultural resources available to an individual. They can be of three forms: incorporated [knowledge and know-how, skills, forms of speech, etc..], objectified [possession of cultural objects] and institutionalized [titles, diplomas]).
> Views of society reducing everything to economic capital are quite impoverished. Overestimating economic capital often makes agents underestimate the total capital they hold. This is, for instance, as you all know, well documented in the literature on language death. A frequent reason for not teaching the next generation one’s own language is low self-esteem and the belief that other cultural codes are more successful, especially on the economic level. Another reason is the belief of indivisibility and immutability of non-economic capital: that future generations will not be able to acquire the cultural code with the same degree of perfection as ego anyway.
> As we all know from language death, interruption of cultural transmission entails a decrease of cultural diversity. We linguists can do very little to help the world take care of economic capital in a useful way. However, we linguists can contribute quite substantially to help the world take care of its cultural, social, and symbolic capital. I think linguistics has no reason for low self-esteem as far as  cultural, social, and symbolic capital are concerned and I hope very much that linguists who believe that linguistics of tomorrow never can reach the level of relevance of linguistics of today and yesterday will prove to be wrong. Who are we that we can know for sure that what we are doing has no potential to evolve into something even more powerful in the future?
> Bourdieu, Pierre. 1980. Le sens pratique. Paris: Éditions de minuit.

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