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Profit and Archaeology
#1
A couple of posts in IFA pay consultation thread infer that there is something wrong in making a profit and/or archaeology is not a profit making sector. People routinely refer to the Evils of competitive tendering.

I wonder if we should discuss these issues. At the BAJR 2006 conference I argued that professional archaeology has been a private sector not public sector activity for most of the last 60 years. So it is possible to make a profit in archaeology and not compromise standards? Do we need carefully defined standards cast in tables of stone to ensure free and fair competition as well as profitability? What level of profit is acceptable for the owners of archaeological companies?

Given that the IFA is suggesting pay rates comparable with other industries should it be acceptable for the owners of archaeological companies to make as much profit as these comparable industries?

Peter Wardle
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#2
As far as I am concerned, I deal with every body in archaeology as that that they are out to make as much profit as they can. Good luck to them.
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#3
Can't believe I am about to do this....discuss Marxist theory of Value, Price and Profit with Peter Wardle....but in for a penny....

My objection to 'archaeology' making 'profits' is based upon the classic Marxist analysis of Value, Price and Profit. That is that a worker is recompensed for only part of his working day, the unpaid part equalling the so-called 'profit' retained by his or her employer.

Whilst archaeological wages are so low (currently running at between 13 and 53% below IFA-compared posts in other industries) making a profit from the labour of archaeologists whilst refusing to pay them a decent wage or grant them decent terms and conditions of service is immoral.

And before anyone gets too much on my back, can I state that if archaeologists were paid a decent wage, with decent terms and conditions and with an effective career structure [u]and</u> archaeological companies were able to show a surplus, I would wholeheartedly embrace profiteering.

Ref: http://libcom.org/library/value-price-an...-karl-marx
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#4
Quote:quote:And before anyone gets too much on my back, can I state that if archaeologists were paid a decent wage, with decent terms and conditions and with an effective career structure and archaeological companies were able to show a surplus, I would wholeheartedly embrace profiteering.

maybe sort out the profit first and the (pre-)rest will follow
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#5
Kevin,

To a degree I agree withyou. Paying an exploitative wages to make large profits in many cases is immoral. But on the otherhand how much should the owner make for taking the risk and outlaying the capital. Given that you can get 8% return on captital without risk how much return should you get with the risks involved with archaeology 20%, 30% or 40%?

Is Unitof1 right when he says we can sort out the profitability in archaeology would good wages and conditions follow?

Peter
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#6
Go on then, Exploit me
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#7
All I am sayiong (well for now) is that without profit, then how do we advance... we must make profit... or how else will wages rise (as Dr Pete says) if we are to create a stable future, then we must have a stable profession, that does not continually rest on a single watching brief brining in threuppence that can just pay the rent... daft...

You can be ethical and moral... AND make money.. - I make money .. I make a decent living... and I work hard for it... the pay off.. what I can do with the cash ... the fun I can have and share,..... the community project I can shovel cash into, becasue I did well out of a commercial project.. etc...


I agree with kevin, that making moeney, and then not sharing the benefits is immoral... profit from the work of others, invest in others.. adn the rest follows.. reading Gilreans psot in the other thread, says jsut that... invest.. make moeny.. invest... happy staff work better, you make more moeny, that you can invest... in happier staff..

be happy


"I don't have an archaeological imagination.."
Borekickers
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#8
Quote:quote:Originally posted by BAJR Host

All I am sayiong (well for now) is that without profit, then how do we advance... we must make profit... or how else will wages rise (as Dr Pete says) if we are to create a stable future, then we must have a stable profession, that does not continually rest on a single watching brief brining in threuppence that can just pay the rent...

Once again Mr Host you are bang on. No profession (however loosely organised the term might be in archaeology) can survive and progress without making enough spare cash to invest in its own future. At least, while we live in a capitalist system that is the case - come the people's revolution everything will of course be generously state funded - only joking (I've been reading that book about OGS Crawford, which I can heartily recommend)!

This does bring us back to the previous thread about the way in which companies are organised - what happens to the profits made by charities for example? What about council units? The random and varying nature of each organisation makes it a bit difficult to compare. It's so hard for companies to make a profit in archaeology that you can't imagine the directors of any limited companies looking forward to massive dividends, but if there were some to have they might be reluctant to give them up when they arrived. I don't think it would make a good pitch for Dragon's Den.

I recall working at one organisation and being told that it had made so many tens of thousands of pounds profit that year and thinking 'well why can't we all have a £250 Christmas bonus then?' It's almost like the culture of rewarding staff when there is a reward to give is so alien to archaeology it never occurs to anyone. This was some time ago though, and I know that some organisations do value the concept of rewarding staff when they can.
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#9
No doubt you have all come across Michael Heaton and his expositions on precisely Peter's theme. They have been published in The Archaeologist over the last few years and presented at the IFA conference.

You can read "W(h)ither the Profession" and "W(h)ither the Profession II" on his website...

http://www.archaeology.demon.co.uk/bibliography.htm

...I think there is a lot of value there, particularly his arguments that trainee (ie. undergraduate) archaeologists should have more rigorous training in professional matters (what is professionalism, how to set up and run a business etc.) as well as the basic mechanisms of developer funding. He is also right to point out the futility (and potential illegality in a free market) of aligning archaeological wages to public sector pay scales.
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#10
Hmmm... do I want to come across as some fluffy, eco-loving, swampyesque Trot? What the hey... and sorry this, is going to come across as a bit disjointed and not well thought through. But, 'tis a gut reaction to the question.

Profit is not immoral in itself, but it is when it is exploitative... and, unfortunately, I have seen archaeological exploitation (of staff, resources, ethics and, yes, even the archaeology itself). Sometimes, I've felt (actually been) exploited. Sometimes, I've felt like I wanted to be the exploitee. We've all been there. Fat-cat archaeolgists do exist. I've seen them drive past in their Range Rovers, while I carry on digging the sh*t. We've all been there... some of us even aspire(d) to be the fat-cat driving by.

Archaeology has been a private sector thing for some time now (agreed). Have standards fallen or been degraded? In the most part, I think not... in some cases standards have risen. And of course, no-one setting up in business is doing it for purely (solely) altruistic reasons. There has to be some financial / material gain. Yet, even in the supposed bad-old days, there was a sense of community and mucking-in together (hey, in the dim-and-distant past I've seen the unit director shovelling sh*t). Archaeology was the uppermost thing in our minds (yes, the money did come in useful... usually to pay for beer and fags). I think that the loss of that cammeraderie (or just the feeling of it) is one of the casualties of competitive tendering.

I've just done a trawl of the internet to get some 'background' stuff (for either side of the argument). I found what appeared to be a spot-on article entitled Private Sector Archaeology(Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?)- I've found that I have to pay $25 to see it. Since when did it become ok for knowledge (or rather access to it) to have a price? Should eveything have a price?

Surely if we wanted to profit from archaeology... we should have become the tombraiders we abhor, and not had bothered with all that education and mud-buddy stuff to become the archaeologists aspire to be (or already are).
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