May 09, 2007

Bullies on the Courtyard

Came across this blog today, via a link from this short article in the Chronicle (I think the content is free--if you can access it, read the first comment at the end of the article, b/c I can't figure out if it's for real).

Anyhoo, the blog deals with academic bullying and "mobbing," which is the PhD equivalent of all the chickens in the barnyard ganging up on the wounded one and pecking it to death. Fascinating reading.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at May 9, 2007 10:06 AM | TrackBack
Comments

Acacdemics sure write long complaints. Why is there no Creative Writing course on quick rejoinders.

Erving Goffman (ironic sociologists still exist, too, eg. Joseph Gusfield, if you'd like to follow Drunk Driving bullying) wrote _Asylums_ about total institutions, which the academy seeks to become, by studying mental hospitals. He had a few interesting conclusions that I copied out here : http://home.att.net/~rhhardinl/goffman.underlife.txt

Taking a stand against the institution is central to life, and needn't be long-winded.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at May 9, 2007 01:38 PM

"Academics sure write long complaints. Why is there no Creative Writing course on quick rejoinders."

Ron -- I have heard of a study, supposedly done at UMass Amherst in the late 60s, in which faculty were asked to rate the intelligence of the authors of two passages with comparable content. One passage was precise and short, the other convoluted and verbose. Almost universally, the author of the more verbose one was picked as being smarter.

That study Died The Death right quick!

Posted by: PersonFromPorlock at May 9, 2007 04:57 PM

That site is creepy.

For example, take the Pack of Wolves woman. She's telling the beginning of her partner's tale of woe, about how he was hired by his university (and is now under suspension).

She's trying to set them up as bullies from the beginning by recalling ridiculous little details (an interviewer had a "very erect and imposing posture") and identifying imagined slights (the boyfriend was asked by an interviewer if he'd like to be Dean of the School, a question the interviewee found "most unwelcome"). The partner is offered the job and accepts despite his spidey-senses already tingling with paranoia. They give him a crummy office, which is dismaying but which his girlfriend sees as yet another intentioned slight. Apparently they've hired the guy just so they can insult him.

At this point I am reminded strongly of some certified nuts I have known. The Commie propaganda posters do not do much to dispel the aroma of honey-roasting.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at May 11, 2007 01:38 AM

Angie -

She seems a bit, erm, unhinged. Did you get to the part where she's talking about how her partner has basically been reduced to a quivering blob of protoplasm--something about having to spend his own money on textbooks?

Maybe that's a European thing - the folks who run the blog are French, I think, and academia across the pond is still almost Feudal in its structure.

To me, the blog is as much about the insecurity and nuttiness of the "mobbed" as it is about the "mobbers."

Posted by: BAW at May 11, 2007 09:38 AM

...Sadly, this is no exercise in creative writing...

In terms of workplace bullying, the little detail is part of the overall picture. Perhaps if some were aware of the symptoms of PTSD they would be less likely to make insensitive comments about the victims of workplace bullying and be so easily dismissive.

Not too long ago a young Professor killed herself due to workplace bullying. Workplace bullying impacts the target/victim, the colleagues, the family, the friends... It gives us no pleasure to run the blog we do. It is not something to be proud of.

May I suggest you read the work of Professor Kenneth Westhues.

Posted by: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon at May 13, 2007 05:36 PM

Perhaps if some were aware of the symptoms of PTSD they would be less likely to make insensitive comments about the victims of workplace bullying and be so easily dismissive.

Perhaps if the young man were not presented as traumatized by what sounds like an ordinary interview process followed by a disappointing work space then it wouldn't be so easy to be dismissive.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at May 15, 2007 01:08 AM

"May I suggest you read the work of Professor Kenneth Westhues."

No. You may not. I wasted enough of my life in grad school reading whinging academics in the Social Sciences and Humanities. If you want to see truly nasty politics, go into Industry where real money is at stake. I just survived a round of corporate restructuring. The people who lost that one don't have crappy offices - they don't have offices - or jobs. The only way you can find a situation as bad as that in Academia is to reveal yourself as a Republican.

People are nasty wherever you go. Get used to it.

Posted by: John at May 17, 2007 10:21 PM
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