Thursday, March 06, 2014

Rethinking the job-identity

Every once in a while, I'm asked if I am in research or in a job. These are mostly people from all age ranges in India. Probably what they mean is, do I work in the academia, or in industry. I get that. But this mindset of research versus job is somewhat disconcerting. Does it mean that research does not count as a job? 

I think that it is the lack of basic understanding that doing your own thing can also be counted as a job for which you get paid. This is what researchers do. This is why I want to be a research professor, to pursue my own research ideas. I’d like to acquire sufficient skills and expertise that I do not have to work for anyone. That I will come up with my own questions, write grants to seek the money, and investigate those questions. It took me a long time to figure out why being a research professor is such a coveted job in the US. Based on my experience in India, I thought that all professors did was teach.

I'm wondering, what qualifies as a "job" for the greater mass? Something you spend at least one-third of your day doing? Something that pays the bills? Some place that you have to show up at, at least five days a week? What else? I don’t think that money is always a criterion. I do a lot of unpaid work too, that I consider my job. I take care of the house, I do writing and editing work, I lead many projects, and I pursue photography. The list is longer. None of these pay me. So let me refine my definition of what a job is. I think that anything that enriches our identity (social, personal, professional, etc.), is a job. Anything that makes us accountable to other people, and to ourselves is a job. Anything that makes a difference in this world is a job. Perhaps reading this will help people open up their mind about how one perceives work.

sunshine


2 comments:

mona said...

Nicely put. I think that the indian mindset comes from the fact that if you are a teacher/researcher you are from the 'Shikshak' category. If you sell something for living, then you are from 'Baniya' category. Majority, though, will 'work', meaning.. they take orders and report to others.

mona said...

Nicely put. I think that the indian mindset comes from the fact that if you are a teacher/researcher you are from the 'Shikshak' category. If you sell something for living, then you are from 'Baniya' category. Majority, though, will 'work', meaning.. they take orders and report to others.