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

Revisiting academic work and academic trajectories: Why? How?

Christine Musselin (CSO, Sciences Po et CNRS)

University of Kent, October 2012


Revisiting academic work and academic trajectories why how

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 many studies but still some shadow issues 1

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

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

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


2 towards a sociology of academic work 1

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

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

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

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


3 academic trajectories 1

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

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

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 31

3. Academic trajectories… (3)

Age of access in physics for instance


3 academic trajectories 32

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


Revisiting academic work and academic trajectories why how

3. Academic trajectories (3)

Distribution by age and discipline in cohort 3 for instance


3 academic trajectories 4

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 academic profession and other Activities


4 the aca 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

Thank you very much !


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