Today I went looking for a dissertation, Beth Dunlop’s PhD thesis on 4th century sermons on the Nativity. It does exist online. If you are a ‘have’, it’s free to download. If you are a ‘have-not’, it will cost you $40.
I am an ordinary professional man, earning a living in an office, and paying huge basic-rate taxes. I am, in short, a have-not. Probably most of the readers of this blog are have-nots.
Of course the ‘have not’ has funded the access for the ‘have’. That is what is the really bitter part of it all. I am forced to spend my days in the office, writing software for insurance companies in order to pay my taxes; in order, in short, to provide access to scholarship for others to enjoy. If *I* want access, I must pay again. Not that anyone ever does, I am sure – the purpose of the charge is to deny access.
Examples of online state-funded scholarship which is inaccessible could be multiplied. More and more, scholarship depends on databases of references; databases built with state grants, and access restricted to those in full-time education. An ordinary man can’t even get an ATHENS userid. We can’t get access to JSTOR. Well, dammit man… what about the poor b****y public who pay for it all?!?!
We really need a revolution here. Just why should the ordinary man be obliged to fund the leafy paths of scholarship, and then prevented from accessing the result, exploited if he shows interest?