University Of Tasmania

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Beyond the academic precariat: a collective biography of poetic subjectivities in the neoliberal university

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 10:00 authored by Hartung, C, Nicoli BarnesNicoli Barnes, Welch, R, O'Flynn, G, Uptin, J, McMahon, S
The ‘neoliberal turn’ in the higher education sector has received significant intellectual scrutiny in recent times. This scrutiny, led by many established academics working within the sector, has highlighted the negative repercussions for teaching and research staff, often referred to as the ‘academic precariat’ due to their tenuous employment prospects within an increasingly marketdriven system. This critique of the modern university can also inadvertently position academics as either resisting or complying with neoliberal governance. This does not adequately account for the nuanced and poetic ways in which professional, personal and gendered subjectivities are formulated, intertwined and negotiated. In this paper we draw on the six overlapping yet distinct narratives of the six female authors, all early-career academics from Australia. We capture and analyse these narratives through collective biography, a qualitative methodology underpinned by the work of Davies and Gannon and others, that helps us to move beyond the ‘good vs. bad’, ‘resistance vs. compliance’ debates about academic life. We identify aspects of our lived subjectivities that offer rupture through poetic and hopeful ways of understanding how academics construct and negotiate their lives.


Publication title

Sport Education and Society








Faculty of Education



Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Equity and access to education; Gender aspects in education; Workforce transition and employment

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