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How should we live in academia?

20 November 2018 - 23 November 2018

Dr. Sarah R Davies

When & Where:

  • Munich Colloquium on Technology in Society by Dr. Sarah R Davies on “Making sense of mobility: Precarity and international mobility in the natural sciences”, Nov 20, 2018, 5 pm, Vorhoelzer Forum
  • Workshop November 23, 2018, 4-7 pm, MCTS, Augustenstr. 46, seminar room 270


There is increasing public, policy and academic discussion of the nature and conditions of academia, from ‘quit lit’ (personal accounts of the decision to leave research) to policy concerns about a ‘post-doc problem’. While, within these discussions, there is widespread agreement that universities are changing, assessments of exactly how and why vary, with emphases on, variously, new public management, the integration of public and private sectors, ‘academic capitalism’, or neoliberalism. Key trends – impacting both research and teaching – are marketisation, individualisation, evaluation, precarity, and responsibilisation.

We will consider these developments by reading, discussing, and critiquing some key literature and concepts and through reflexive engagement concerning how these dynamics shape our own careers and experiences. In particular we will pay attention to the question of how one should live and work in the academy under its current conditions. What possibilities are there for intervention or resistance, and are these necessary? If the ideal academic is construed by research policy as entrepreneurial, independent, and mobile, can and should we find other ways of performing this figure?


Ball SJ (2012) Performativity, Commodification and Commitment: An I-Spy Guide to the Neoliberal University. British Journal of Educational Studies 60(1): 17–28.

Cannizzo F (2018) ‘You’ve got to love what you do’: Academic labour in a culture of authenticity. The Sociological Review 66(1): 91–106.

Kleinman DL and Vallas SP (2001) Science, capitalism, and the rise of the ‘knowledge worker’: The changing structure of knowledge production in the United States. Theory and Society 30(4): 451–492.

Shore C (2008) Audit culture and Illiberal governance: Universities and the politics of accountability. Anthropological Theory 8(3): 278–298.

Sparkes AC (2007) Embodiment, academics, and the audit culture: a story seeking consideration. Qualitative Research 7(4): 521–550.

Thornton M (2013) The Mirage of Merit. Australian Feminist Studies 28(76): 127–143.

Ylijoki O-H (2010) Future orientations in episodic labour: Short-term academics as a case in point. Time & Society 19(3): 365–386.

…more information (PDF)


20 November 2018
23 November 2018
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