Revisiting academic work and academic trajectories: Why? How?
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Revisiting academic work and academic trajectories: Why? How?. Christine Musselin (CSO, Sciences Po et CNRS). University of Kent, October 2012. Plan. Many studies but still some shadow issues Towards a sociology of academic work Academic trajectories/careers

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Revisiting academic work and academic trajectories: Why? How?

Christine Musselin (CSO, Sciences Po et CNRS)

University of Kent, October 2012


Plan

  • Many studies but still some shadow issues

  • Towards a sociology of academic work

  • Academic trajectories/careers

  • The academic profession and other activities


1. Many studies but still some shadow issues


1. Many studies but still some shadow issues (1)

  • Comparing national settings to identify common trends

    • The threat to “permanent” positions

    • The increase in non-tenure-track faculty

      • What was previously considered a “normal career path” with a transition period becomes an exception

      • The variety in status is increasing because the employment of contingent staff is less regulated and more governed by local rules


1. Many studies but still some shadow issues(2)

  • The development of institutional management expanding along with and superseding self-regulation

  • Last but not least, the academic profession has lost some of its prestige


1. Many studies but still some shadow issues (3)

  • Some “shadow” Issues

    • Measuring evolution over time within a single country and between countries.

    • The “invisible” workforce: we lack descriptions and analyses of those working in this “secondary academic labor market”

    • Faculty members as citizens or private persons (some renewal with N. Gross).


2. Towards a sociology of academic work


2. Towards a sociology of academic work (1)

  • Analyzing Academic Activities

    • The divide between research and teaching.

      • Research activities as a profession or as a network

      • Teaching and pedagogy

      • Research against teaching


2. Towards a sociology of academic work (2)

  • Academic work from a more comprehensive perspective

    • How academics articulate the tensions and complementarities between the many different tasks to be achieved.

    • Most of the time, academic activities have been approached with the sociology of professions: why not by the sociology of work.

      • Not much attention has been paid to issues such as the division of work among peers

      • Teaching and research as loosely coupled activities


2. Towards a sociology of academic work (3)

  • Academic productivity

    • Scientometrics and bibliometrics have produced data on scientific productivity of academics

    • But they rarely look at the qualitative and quantitative impact of the transformation of academic work

      • Only few scholars, such as Paula Stephan, have observed how the transformation of academic labor markets is jeopardizing quality.

      • Even less look at the impact of the “industrialization” of teaching or of part time and adjuncts on the quality of teaching


2. Towards a sociology of academic work (4)

  • The role of universities in the production of new norms (PhD of Simon Paye)

    • Universities as employers

    • Human resources offices as norms producers

      • Formalization of procedures (yearly assessment for instance)

      • Formalization of criteria

      • Formalization of career paths


3. Academic trajectories


3. Academic trajectories(1)

  • Most works on the academic labor markets describe how careers are structured by nation

  • More recently,

    • Some studies used the distinction between bounded (organizational) and boundaryless careers

    • In fact they oppose and separate what sociologists from the Chicago school considered as interdependent.


3. Academic trajectories(2)

  • First potential development: bringing together labor markets, employment relationships, and organization of work

  • Second potential development: the transformation of careers using cohort analysis to compare trajectories and the odds of entry, promotions, and institutional mobility


3. Academic trajectories(3)

  • An example (with M. Sabatier and F. Pigeyre)

    • Methodology

      • Comparison between four cohorts in three disciplines (management, history and physics): 1976-1977, 1986-1987, 1996-1997, 2006-2007

      • Biographical interviews and statistical analysis

    • A stablepattern in the entrantsprofiles

      • Entrants are young, early and rapid and it is more and more so overtime

      • In physics, entrants are younger, earlier, and more rapid than in management and history


3. Academic trajectories… (3)

Age of access in physics for instance


3. Academic trajectories(3)

  • An example (with M. Sabatier and F. Pigeyre)

    • Methodology

      • Comparison between four cohorts in three disciplines (management, history and physics): 1976-1977, 1986-1987, 1996-1997, 2006-2007

      • Biographical interviews and statistical analysis

    • A stablepattern in the entrantsprofiles

      • Entrants are young, early and rapid and it is more and more so overtime

      • In physics, entrants are younger, earlier, and more rapid than in management and history


3. Academic trajectories (3)

Distribution by age and discipline in cohort 3 for instance


3. Academic trajectories (4)

  • Profiles are stable overtime but the processes leading to access have deeply changed

    • A « vacancy chains » model in the 70s and 80s:

      • Many positions are created to face the first massification

      • Once a position is vacant, the next in the line got it

      • Seniority prevails

    • In the 90s and 200s

      • Creation of post-docs

      • Standardization of the process leading to a position

      • Young, early, rapid get a positions, but for the other, the longer they are post-docs, the less chance they have to get a position


4. The academic profession and other Activities


4. The aca. profession and other activities

  • Most of the time, the academic profession has been studied as autonomous and specific

  • It has seldom been compared with other professions, until recently

    • Some research deals with the transformation of work in firms

    • Others focus on the transformation of academics into knowledge workers

    • New perspectives ?


Thank you very much !


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