One problem area in Sociology PhD job market: a mismatch between advertised fields and PhD student’s interests

MacLeans points out one of the issues raised by a recent ASA publication titled Moving Toward Recovery: Findings from the 2010 Job Bank Survey:

It’s not all good news, however. The report also surveyed PhD candidates and found some major mismatches between their “areas of special interest” and the jobs that were available in 2010.

One of the widest gaps is in criminology (a.k.a. social control, crime, law and deviance), which made up 31 per cent of all postings on the ASA’s job site in 2010, but was only listed as an area of special interest for 18 per cent of PhD candidates whom were surveyed by the ASA.

The opposite problem exists too. More people are interested in “inequities and stratification” than any other field — 35 per cent of candidates chose it as one of their special interests — but only 19 per cent of jobs advertised were in that area.

There’s also a shortage of jobs for those interested in teaching gender and sexuality. One fifth of students are interested in the subject, but only one tenth of advertised jobs were in that field.

The article misses one other subfield with a large difference: 8.4% of advertised jobs were looking for someone in the sociology of culture while 24.3% of students had an interest in this area.

Will the free market work this out? Who needs to change in this area: should students start pursuing these in-demand sub-fields or do graduate programs hold any responsibility, perhaps for encouraging students in subfields that reflect their faculty more than the jobs available in the field?

What to do with a sociology PhD: become the father of the hedge fund

A common question arises regarding sociology degrees: what can you do with that? The man behind the hedge fund, Alfred Winslow Jones, held a sociology PhD from Columbia University before going on to becoming a financial writer and inventor:

In fact, by the time the article hit the newsstands, Jones was already well in the process of setting up his own investment firm, A. W. Jones & Co. While reporting on the latest investment strategies, Jones had begun to contemplate a new approach, one that would include selling short some stocks in a portfolio as a way to protect against the market’s uncertainties.

Such a portfolio, Jones would explain to his investors, was a “hedged” fund..

In 1941, Jones received a sociology doctorate from Columbia University. For his research, he interviewed 1,705 residents of Akron, Ohio about their attitudes toward corporations and property. He found that, despite local labor unrest and political tensions, Akron was not divided rigidly along class lines. His dissertation was published as a book titled Life, Liberty, and Property, which became a much-used text in sociology circles…

Landau highlighted Jones as the man who had started this trend, noting however that the sociology Ph.D. “actually seems to be more interested in things other than finance,” including finding self-improvement alternatives to welfare and organizing a Reverse Peace Corps to bring foreigners to work with poor Americans. Jones was quoted complaining that “too many men don’t want to do something after they make money.” Many of Jones’s early investors, Landau wrote, were scholars, social workers and others whom Jones had met over the years and was trying to free from financial concerns.

Sounds like an interesting life. It would be fascinating to hear Jones talk about how his PhD in sociology helped push him toward his financial inventions and actions. Was it something about the way sociology views the world that helped him develop the idea of the “hedged fund”? Perhaps sociology gave him some unique insights into the operation of economic markets. Additionally, it sounds like Jones had some sociological thoughts about what one should do with an accumulated fortune: it should be put toward new social ideas and goals.