Thursday, October 01, 2009

In Academia, High Status = Useless?

Well that's depressing...
Thorstein Veblen made this point a hundred years ago in The Theory of the Leisure Class. Academics show their high status by doing useless research. Useful research is low status. When, as a professor, you see this in your own department — the uselessness of what people do — you think surely other departments are different. They aren’t. As a Berkeley grad student in engineering said to me, “95% of what goes on in Cory [Hall — where her department is] will never be used.”

1 comment:

The Grid said...

It does sound a bit discouraging, doesn't it. Research and development is probably one of the most underrated industries (well in Australia anyway), and yet it is the key to finding ways to expand productive capacity in the economy. I guess that's just the nature of research. You're looking for something, and it might take a lifetime to find it, given that you find it at all.