Notes from Outside the Boat

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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13 Responses

  1. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    “Credentialism is out of control.”

    They can’t refuse to hire you for being black, pregnant, crazy, or drunk.

    But they *can* refuse to hire you for not having the proper credentials.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Great post Rufus!

    That Victorian story might be untrue but that attitude behind it is very real. In The Rise of Victorian Value: Decency and Dissent in Britain, there is a showing that early 19th century debates about poverty are basically like our own with the same stereotypes, fears, and armchair psychology. The early bourgeois Victorians also feared and worried that the poor were begging during the day and then living like debauched royals at night and we have our scare stories about people on food stamps buying lobster tail and steak.

    I must also admit to the amount of credentialism that seems to happen in the UK and Commonwealth countries including how certain jobs normally held by teenagers like babysitting require credentialing. Of course this can happen without government intervention as well. There are now websites and apps that promise college educated babysitters and dogwalkers. My pet owning friends have defended the concept of a college-educated dogwalker as being someone more likely to pay attention.

    I also agree with your point on the luxury of anticonsumerism.

    I have an internet friend who grew up working class and just finished college at 30. She once made a comment about how serving/waiting tables is something that she can always fall back on. This is true but I wonder if the idea of always having something to fall back on can also prevent many people from going forward?

    It is interesting that US talk of rampant credentialism is largely about whether a job should require a university degree or not.Report

    • @saul-degraw

      This is true but I wonder if the idea of always having something to fall back on can also prevent many people from going forward?

      You mentioned this once before and my response was a snarky, “but at least it can pay the bills.”

      But now that I’m not being snarky, my question is, what do you mean? How can that idea prevent someone from going forward?

      Here’s one (non-snarky) way I imagine that to be true. Someone might more readily return to what they know (waiting tables, customer service, whatever) instead of holding out for a few months for the “better” job, where “better” is defined as one or several of the following: “pays more”; “gets more respect”; “has opportunities for advancement,” where “advancement” means one or both of the following: “getting paid more” or “getting more respect.”Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        By making up excuses about not looking for other work because service jobs are stable if low-paying, always present, etc.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        This is a real thing. It’s called “getting stuck in a rut,” and I did it for about five years. Then I met a dude — a fellow role-player — who was fairly successful at life and had some contacts. And I told him I could write software, but he didn’t really totally believe me. Then I wrote this little thing for his roleplaying game and he went, “Oh, wait! You can write software.” So he made a couple phone calls and within two weeks I had a better job.

        A guy I met at that job liked my work, saw that I was solid. When he got sick of it he left and joined a little startup, which then offered a position to me. Big risk, but I’d lived in a rut and wasn’t gonna do it again. Said yes. Got the job. We flipped the company and I ended up in Boston at a really cool tech concern.

        Things were cool there for a few years, until I landed on a shitty project with a crappy boss, one of those projects that drag on and on and never quite goes full death march. And now I was in another rut.

        (Of course by then I was a woman and my risk tolerance had changed much.)

        Went and found a better job — a much better job.

        But on the other hand, that first dude, the roleplaying guy, where would my life be without him? Maybe I’d’ve found some other way. I’m a smart girl and sooner or later I figure shit out.

        But then maybe not. Life is tricky, and we all practice fundamental attribution error.

        I owe that dude a fuckton.

        Anyway, ruts are real. Folks in them can sure use some help.Report

  3. Comments that are repeatedly and overwhelmingly aimed towards denigrating certain groups or individuals, especially when those comments are off-topic, will render a commenter subject to having his or her commenting privileges revoked.

    For the record, that’s what the NRA* might have turned the US into if it had survived court challenge and congressional hostility.

    *No, not that NRA.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      I’m confused. The NRA might have turned into a commenting policy?Report

      • I am too. Did a comment get axed?Report

      • @mike-schilling @rufus-f

        Now I’m confused! What I meant to do was offer a very tangential riff on this part of what Rufus said:

        It reminds me a bit of France, where every possible occupation requires belonging to a cartel professional guild of one sort or another.

        It was a swipe at the early New Deal (again, very tangential).

        The comment policy quote was something I was contemplating putting in response to another commenter on this thread who seemed to be violating that particular portion of the policy. (And for the record, I wasn’t referring to either of you or to Saul.) I decided not to cite it because perhaps it wasn’t a clear-cut case, and I’m not sure it’s my prerogative as commenter to call people on what I see as violating the policy.Report

      • Huh. I thought the comment in question was stating an odious truth. I, too, see “credentialism” as a way to keep the old “I only hire me and mine” racism without racists, sexism without sexists thing going.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        What JB said. I don’t agree 100% with Jim’s comment (they can certainly refuse to hire you for being crazy or drunk), but he’s making a point about the effects of credentialism, not insulting anyone.

        And the War on Drugs applies as well: they can refuse to hire you for having a felony conviction too.Report

      • I guess I read it differently, but as I said, it wasn’t a clear-cut case, and you both pointed out why.Report

  4. Avatar Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    I don’t understand how requiring a wait person – the one who is taking the orders for alcohol and delivering the drinks – to have a Smart Serve certificate is out-of-control credentialism. I live in Ontario, where the Smart Serve is from (unless perhaps you’re referring to a different program with the same name), and not only are the wait person and the establishment legally responsible for the actions of intoxicated patrons but it is illegal to serve to the point of intoxication. The Smart Serve certificate is not about “can you take and deliver peoples’ food and beverage orders” but “do you understand your legal rights and responsibilities as a server of an incapacitating substance” and also “here is how you manage things so everyone has a good time and a safe time.”

    For comparison, it may be useful to look up the drunk driving and other alcohol-related damage statistics and compare them to where you live, if your area doesn’t have similar rules.

    The Smart Serve program is not “credentialism run amok.” It is one of the reasons we have credential systems in the first place – to ensure that people in positions of responsibility have the necessary knowledge and skills to serve the needs of those around them.Report

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