Back to zero? Precarious employment in academia amongst ‘older’ early career researchers, a life-course approach

Nerida Spina, Kathleen Smithers, Jess Harris, Inger Mewburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite the diversity of entry points into academia, little research exists examining the experiences and impact of precarious employment at different life stages. Drawing on interviews with 19 academics employed casually or on fixed-term contracts in Australian universities, this paper illustrates how precarious employment is experienced at different life and career stages. Using Foucauldian understandings of power and discourse alongside a life-course sociological approach, we explore how parenthood, relationships and life decisions are shaped by precarious employment in the academy. Discourses around academic ‘pipelines’ and ‘early careers’ obscure the experiences of those entering academia as a second-career; and those in long-term precarious employment. These employment structures have deep personal, professional and financial impacts. By identifying the intersection between precarious employment and life stages, we argue that an understanding of the effects of precarious employment requires further, urgent attention to support the diverse needs of academics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-549
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Volume43
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2022

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