Pity the poor researchers at the American Sociological Association. Every year they crank out a report—one of the most thorough of its kind—assessing the state of the academic job market in their field. Every year their findings can be characterized in one of two ways: either “downright bleak” or “cause for cautious optimism.” And every year, they have to come up with a reasonably catchy title.
Now that we’ve reached Report No. 6, released yesterday, these titles have begun to take on a cumulative force. They’re actually a pretty decent at-a-glance summary of the market’s recent trajectory: two parts TL;DR, one part found poetry.
In its recap of 2008—drawn, like all subsequent studies, from postings in the ASA’s own job bank—the association asked a question with dark intimations: “Down Market?” The following year—when job listings cratered, dropping by 35 percent—we got our answer: “Still a Down Market.” Well, that’s sorted, then.
Since then, though, the mood has lightened. 2010: “Moving Toward Recovery.” 2011: “On the Upswing.” 2012: “On the Road to Recovery.” C’mon, recovery! Happen, already! But the new report, which covers the 2013 job market, doesn’t provide much in the way of a payoff: “Faculty Position Opportunities in Sociology Appear to Hold Steady.” <Read more.>