Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 19: GroupThink analysis and examples (iv)

For the GroupThink chart, see section (i) in 31st August post

Box C: Symptoms of GroupThink

C1. Overestimation of Group.

As this series focuses on archaeology's role in cultural heritage matters I thought it would be a good idea to see some numbers on the archaeology profession within the general field of cultural occupations. Being in Canada and thus more familiar and influenced with aspects of culture here, I decided to pick Canadian statistics. I wanted to find out how many archaeologists there here and how that profession stacked up in comparison with other cultural professions in the country. A Statistical Profile of Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada (Based on the 2011 National Household Survey and the Labour Force Survey) seemed a good place to start. Searching the page, though, there was no mention of archaeology or archaeologists at all. The closest I got was "Cultural occupations related to libraries, archives, and heritage." and under that heading were two categories:
A341 Library, archive, museum, and art gallery managers.
F112 Technical occupations related to museums and art galleries
I love irony and it dawned on me that by deciding to search in that document I had overestimated the importance of archaeology in cultural matters. After a little more searching I found out that archaeology is not considered a cultural profession at all and is listed under social sciences. Archaeology's overestimation of its role in cultural heritage seemed to be working on me!

I finally found archaeology's slot in a Canadian Government document: "Other Professional Occupations in Social Science, n.e.c." with the sub-heading: Unit "Group 4169. Skill Type: Occupations in Social Science, Education, Government Service and Religion.". Under "Examples of Occupational Titles" (alphabetically listed) were:

political scientist
The situation did not look for anyone considering a career in archaeology. In the general category where the above professions are included, the report stated:
"Most university programs leading to this occupation attract many more candidates than the labour market can absorb. An illustration of this fact is that the employment situation for graduates of these programs, except for criminology, is much worse than for the average graduate, according to the provincial government Relance survey data: a lower placement rate, much higher unemployment rate, much lower salary, very small proportion of graduates working in a field related to their studies, twice as many graduates who continue their studies than graduates with other degrees, etc. In addition, only a small minority of graduates of these programs are in this occupation. The universities train an average of 1800 graduates of bachelor's and master's degrees every year, while it is estimated that the total annual needs in this occupation are less than 50 (see Statistics). Even if the jobs in other occupations related to this training are added, which include teaching jobs, in 2011 barely 20% of graduates with bachelor's degrees, and about three quarters of those with a master's degree considered their job in 2013 to be related to their field of study. Nevertheless, the employment situation for people with a master's degree in this field is better than for those with a bachelor's degree, but they are still clearly worse off than the average graduate with a master's degree. It is unlikely that the poor labour market outlook for graduates in these programs will improve over the next few years."

With 1800 graduates and the need for 50 jobs, less than 3% of students (about 50 of them) graduating in any year were going to find the sort of job they were looking for. They would mainly have to settle for something "related".

There were no statistics for archaeology and criminology was the only category where there was some specificity, probably because it said, earlier: "Actually, job prospects for criminologists are good and job prospects for other specializations have not been determined." Going into the details, things did not look so rosy:
"The situation for graduates of criminology programs is similar to that of all university graduates in general. However, between 2001 and 2011, barely 10% of bachelor's and master's graduates in criminology worked as criminologists a year and a half after graduation. They worked in a variety of occupations, mainly in the social sciences. More than half of them held positions as community and social service workers (see 4212) or probation or parole officers (see 4155). Therefore, it seems that to hold a position in this occupation, candidates must first acquire experience in positions related to criminology."
Perhaps this explains the recent academic interest in "Cultural Heritage Crimes" and its resulting university courses. So in these matters, the overestimation of the group archaeology in "cultural heritage" is a veritable necessity for personal employment motives. Underestimating its importance would seem to be practically impossible.

John's Coydog Community page


  1. Hi John:
    Whereas the Barfords and Swifts of this world break their nuts trying to portray anyone out of step with their politics; mostly metal detecting enthusiasts, collectors, and anyone a tad Right of Pol Pot, they cannot however overcome the fact that the Nighthawking Report which cost the UK taxpayer some £66,000 (whilst lining the pockets of an archaeological unit) showed that more people are convicted of riding bicycles at night without a rear red light than those who - horror of horrors - trespass onto private and protected sites to find and sell on the world's heritage.

    These anti collecting/detecting/fruitcases, have been well and truly caught in a lie. Tragically for them, but mercifully for us, they are looking morally bankrupt 'berks'. I love it! They are doing our work for us.

    1. Hi John,

      Blaming an activity because of the actions of a few never works, but launching a study to prove their blame is justified suggests a fair amount of self-delusion as well, so it seems that originally using this sort of thing as a knowing ploy, some have actually managed to brainwash themselves. Ozzy Osbourne once said "Don't buy into your own s...". From my communications with a couple of British detectorists, I have seen not only a respect for the landowner's rights but also respect for other detectorists fields that those detectorists are working with such permission.