Shrinkage in Political Science
No, the discipline isn't having a George Constanza situation. Rather, a job market that has been dismal for decades has gotten worse.
No, the discipline isn’t having a George Constanza situation. Rather, a job market that has been dismal for as long as I can recall has gotten worse. American Political Science Association executive director Michael Brintnall has tracked openings for entry level professorships:
Assistant Professor Openings in Political Science
2009-10 445 2008-9 617 2007-8 716 2006-7 730 2005-6 685 2004-5 661
The data are consistent with declines being reported by many other fields (either for the last year or projected for the year ahead) in the humanities and social sciences, including sociology, literature and languages, history, economics, art history and other fields.
Within political science subfields, Brintnall said that positions focused on comparative politics, international relations and public policy appear to be experiencing smaller declines while political theory is being hit harder.
It’s not shocking, of course, that the number of positions being filled is on the decline, given the horrendous state of the economy and the fact that taxpayer subsidized state institutions do the bulk of the hiring.
Still, the numbers are depressingly low. Considering that some significant number of the 445 openings went to people who already held jobs in the profession and are either moving up to a more prestigious institution or making a lateral move after being denied tenure or for personal reasons, the picture is even dimmer than the numbers suggest.
For as long as I can recall — going on 25 years now — political scientists have been hearing of a legendary boom coming in hiring as old the Baby Boomers move off into the sunset. It hasn’t happened and there’s a very real chance that it never will. Even if the money starts to flow again, the trend is to fill as money spots with underpaid adjuncts and as few with tenure-track faculty as possible.