Red Plenty Seminar

by Henry Farrell on May 7, 2012

All going well, our seminar on Francis Spufford’s _Red Plenty_ will be ready in the next few weeks. However, there’s still time to read it if you want to be able to participate fully in the discussion. If you want to read a review before deciding whether to buy, this New York Times review is a good one. The book itself is available from Powells, Barnes and Noble, and “Amazon”: as well as local booksellers.

Academic spousal accommodation in Europe

by Ingrid Robeyns on May 7, 2012

An American friend asked me recently whether Dutch universities have a practice of accommodating spouses when they offer an academic a job. Spousal accommodation could take many forms – either offering a job to the spouse, or making a serious effort in finding a job for the spouse, or supporting the spouse in his or her own job search. Yet I have never heard that there is a practice of spousal accommodation at European universities — whereas it does happen in the US.

Is the impression I have correct? Are there any signs this is changing in Europe? And is it in the US only a matter for certain academic jobs – say: you want to make an offer s/he can’t refuse to a brilliant established professor, or does it also occur at entry-level positions? I’d love to read your views and experiences.

As to the desirability of the practice of spousal accommodation, I have not made up my mind yet. One the one hand, I see around me excellent young academics who are virtually unemployed because their spouse is in a place where there is no job for them, and they don’t want to be living far away from their family; on the other hand we tend to think that jobs should be allocated on a fair equality of opportunities principle — and it is unclear whether spousal accommodation meets this principle. It probably depends on the exact nature of the spousal accommodation: if it merely entails supporting one’s job search on the existing job market, then it seems fine; if it is the actual creation of a job for a spouse, or the striking of a deal with another department that they hire the spouse for a vacancy that is about to be opened, it seems more problematic.