Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 152, Issue 1, pp 53–71 | Cite as

Are Adjunct Faculty Exploited: Some Grounds for Skepticism

  • Jason Brennan
  • Phillip Magness

Adjuncts’ rights activists and their sympathizers have a litany of complaints about how adjuncts are treated, but one chief complaint is that universities exploit adjunct faculty. Al Jazeera describes adjuncts as “indentured servants.”1 Some activists compare adjuncts to sweatshop workers,2 others compare them to sharecroppers3, while a Times Herald columnist calls them “America’s modern slaves.”4 A reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae webpage labels adjuncts “exploited professors;”5 op-eds in the Guardian6 and the Boston Globe7 concur. An article in the Observer claims “colleges would implode without exploited freelance professors”8, while a prominent adjunct activist claims she decided to leave academia because she was tired of being exploited.9The American Prospect celebrates that “exploited faculty members” are “eager to band together” under unions.10 The popular blog Philosophy Smokerclaims again and again that adjuncts are being exploited, while the popular New...


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Jason Brennan declares he has no conflicts of interest. Phillip Magness declares he has no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy, McDonough School of BusinessGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Public PolicyGeorge Mason UniversityArlingtonUSA

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