Sunday, March 01, 2009

A conjecture

I conjecture that the present economic difficulties of the U.S. will strengthen the grip of political correctness in both business and in higher education. People will be afraid either of losing their jobs or of not being hired in the first place and hence will be more susceptible than ever to intimidation, more careful than ever not to say anything to offend the noisiest and nastiest of the bullies in their fields. I would think the effect might even be stronger in the business world than in the academy. In the business world you can't even say, "I have tenure."

What do you think?

Crossposted at W4

9 comments:

Richard D said...

Not only do I concur with your hypothesis, but I have already seen it at my job. I have even seen Facebook monitored for religious statements in order to force people into line. The Federal guaranty of a chosen day of worship is now being used to single out people for potential layoff. Not a good thing.

Lydia McGrew said...

How can they monitor Facebook? Is it that they "suggest" to you that if you're a truly collegial sort of employee you will allow your boss or someone who is going to report to your boss to be your "friend" on Facebook?

That would be enough to make one set up two different Facebook accounts--one being a dummy for the workplace spies.

I never knew there is a federal guarantee of a day off for worship. I actually never knew that. Learn something new every day.

Jeff Culbreath said...

I absolutely agree, Lydia. As someone who is feverishly job-hunting at present, I can't help but wonder if most prospective employers do what I used to do: google the name on the resume and see what comes up. That's how I used to weed out graphic designers. Some of them specialized in pretty bad forms "art" and put their work on a website. If an HR manager wants to determine my political/social/cultural views, she need only google my name ...

Kevin Jones said...

Another possibility is that those who are unemployed for a long period of time may become dishabituated to the excessive manners of the diversitarian office.

Will economic hardship force larger businesses to cut sensitivity training and "diversity officers"? Or will they be a more necessary credentialing action than in good times?

Do lawsuits alleging discrimination increase during tough economic times as people fight for as much money as they can get on their way out the door?

(Have you seen sites such as http://www.diversityinc.com ? I fear they represent ideologues aiming to convert the "conservative" business class.)

Lydia McGrew said...

Well, but Kevin, people have to eat. Now, if they've been unemployed for a long time, they're either going to get more and more desperate to find a job or they're going to become directly dependent on the government for their daily bread, and the latter is not a recipe for freedom of thought and action. Mothers on welfare are far more likely than mothers not on welfare to be forced to take parenting classes, to have the state sticking its nose into their raising of their children, and so forth. That's just one example.

Richard D said...

Lydia - I was part of a project to test Facebook in order to see if it could be used as an alternate method of communication and collaboration between members of our project teams.

That test ended more than a year ago, but I have never felt comfortable removing a coworker from my friend list. And many of us are on Facebook. It was all fine and did not seem to pose any problem until about the time of the inauguration. I asked a question in my status message about why Sunday was a planned celebration day when years ago Sundays were generally avoided for such things--leaving the folks the opportunity to worship on that day rather than revel.

I got some response comments from coworkers that I really could not answer properly in the short sound-bite type of communication that is done on Facebook. I also did not want my friends who understood my question to answer in a way that would cause angst. So I ended up deleting those comments. Shortly after deleting them, I began to notice an uptick in the frequency of interaction from certain coworkers who have shown a disdain for my religious views. Nothing too serious, but I could definitely see how it could become a problem.

I know that my blog has been read by my boss and his boss. Neither of them have shown an issue at all with what they found there, but it did make me think about how vulnerable we all are when we publish our thoughts publicly.

Lydia McGrew said...

That's really interesting, Rich. It makes one think you can never be too careful. I guess the Facebook moral is that if you have a set of people who can harm your livelihood and may not share your values but who want to share your Facebook page, you have to have a special one just for them. Which is a sad thought to think.

Kevin Jones said...

If PC in hiring is as bad as you say, people may watch what they say but they will also grumble about what they see as an additional barrier to employment.

In the interests of the Reality Check, have there been any studies of employers indicating what they are hostile to in new employees?

I'm positive an easily-googled record of anti-black or anti-Jewish remarks would make prospective employers far more wary than the ordinary traditionalist complaints which people (usually college students and journalists) accuse of bigotry.

Outside of academia, how far has PC advanced in the workplace? I don't know anybody who has complained about it at work. Surely some professions are worse than others. Which ones?

And isn't it likely that if hostile co-workers do end up commenting on one's internet writings and political views, it may only result in a little inconsequential office gossip?

We could be scaring ourselves into silence about PC, based only on a few awful but non-representative incidents.

William Luse said...

I get the impression from reading my friend TSO's blog that PC sensitivity is well entrenched in the world of big business. And he works for a big one.