Foucault and Student Loans

In a hilarious April Fool’s Day parody entitled Good Americans should pay their debt, thank Sallie Mae, Savage Minds conveys many points of the public sentiment regarding student loan debts.  Author Thomas Snodgrass discusses how it is American to have, and pay, debt and that student loans help us to achieve the American dream.  He also talks about how many of the complaints about the usury that occurs with student loans are just voiced by bitter people who chose to go into non-lucrative careers (like anthropology) and can not pay their debt back.

Although this is a parody, I can definitely see many of the unexamined assumptions made by ignorant people.  I can also see how Foucault’s theories apply perfectly to this concept.  By defining a field of study as silly and non-lucrative, people in power are able to say what careers deserve not only funding, but also prestige.  By something as simple as the ideas surrounding student loans, those in power are able to lead an entire nation into believing that only certain careers have meaning and value.  It is also a method of keeping people from pursuing their individual American dream. 

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9 thoughts on “Foucault and Student Loans

  1. I’ve known I wanted to be involved in the field of Anthropology since 5th grade, and ever since then, I’ve been asked every time I explain my dual majors, “why that field?” or “what can you do with that?” I’ll admit it has made me question my career choice, and this little debt hole I’ve dug, but every time I try to imagine myself in any other field I cringe. It almost feels like this nation has turned its back on its students, where banks can take out loans with so little interest, and yet students are treated like businesses instead of the future.

    1. “What can you even do with that? Teach?”
      I’ve tacked on “Museum Studies” so at least that cuts down some of the explaining. But still, the *ughhhh* moment. I’ve reverted to: “Whateva I want, bro! I study people!”

      1. Oh my goodness I hate that question, it is not like I just put myself through years of schooling to turn around and regurgitate everything I just learned. Because I’m going on to get my Masters in Forensic Anthropology I just tell people “I like dead people” and they usually leave me alone after that.

  2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/pascalemmanuelgobry/2013/05/09/the-reason-why-college-is-so-expensive-is-actually-dead-obvious/ I love the economic perspective on social issues. Trying to “want” society into the proper shape will never work, so it helps to listen to economic perspectives from people on both sides of the aisle until it becomes clear how to legislate society instead. The only problem is, will lawmakers listen to reason? Probably not, but you gotta try.

    1. Maybe we need to re-think the time scale of this kind of cost/benefit analysis. In the long run, those who got degrees in something they like might not work in that field BUT they have found something that makes use of their passion and learning. They don’t make as much straight out of college, but they make a lot more (on average) than those who got narrowly focused practical degrees.
      So – what’s the appropriate time-scale for analysis of profitability?

  3. It very much feels like being in debt is just part of being an “American,” which is really unfortunate. When I first came to school here, I was planning on being a business major before I switched to anthropology. With either major, I would have been in the same amount of debt. It is quite unfortunate that some people feel as though one major is superior to a different major. If people couldn’t be in the major of their choice, there almost wouldn’t be a point to striving for the chance at higher education. I really like that you were able to take a parody and still see the unexamined assumptions that people have.

  4. It’s so sad that an age marking ritual in our culture is to have debt. I would rather have the stratification of the Nuer boys or something that’s not forever running my life and belittling me. I’m also so tired of people asking me “Why Anthropology?” “What will you do with it?”. The questions are as exhausting as debt itself.

  5. Well, at least you’ll have a bomb-tastic credit score once you pay the debts off. Then you can chase your American dream! But in the mean time, gawk at the number of zeros on your bill.

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