To Hope or Not to Hope’: Experiences among Postdocs of Contemporary Academic Culture in Belgium and Italy

Details

Serval ID
serval:BIB_57E3F4555214
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Title
To Hope or Not to Hope’: Experiences among Postdocs of Contemporary Academic Culture in Belgium and Italy
Journal
Studies in Higher Education
Author(s)
del Rio Carral Maria, Murgia Annalisa, Fusulier Bernard
Publication state
Submitted to the publisher
Peer-reviewed
Oui
Language
english
Abstract
In a context of structural transformations upon academia, this article explores why postdocs – at the core of these changes –remain engaged in their work despite scarce career opportunities offered to them by the institution. To do this, we conducted 60 interviews across two settings, one Belgian and the other one Italian, to identify implications upon postdocs’ experience of different conditions. Focused on daily practices and aspirations for the future, narratives produced reflected similarities and specificities across the two study cases. Our analyses showed that postdocs develop a strong attachment to academia that is affectively ambivalent. What is most desired is at the same time denied: an academic career. However, all postdocs feel the obligation to demonstrate their commitment by performing according to institutional values of efficiency. While daily work tends to be pleasurable, the ability to project themselves is obstructed by job uncertainty. This finding is particularly striking in the Italian context, where employment conditions are more precarious than in the Belgian one. We discuss implications of this ambivalence in terms of agency and well-being. We conclude on the challenges raised by the still prevalent belief that academics as expected to be passionate and fully devoted to their work.
Create date
25/10/2016 15:05
Last modification date
21/01/2020 21:30
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