+1 Recommend
1 collections

      If you have found this article useful and you think it is important that researchers across the world have access, please consider donating, to ensure that this valuable collection remains Open Access.

      Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation is published by Pluto Journals, an Open Access publisher. This means that everyone has free and unlimited access to the full-text of all articles from our international collection of social science journals, and the authors don’t pay an author processing charge (APC’s).

      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      ‘I am a single mum. I don't feel like I can be as competitive as other people’: experiences of precariously employed staff at UK universities



            Universities play a central role in informational capitalism. However, higher education institutions have undergone economic, political and cultural transformations leading to competition, market orientation and new management forms. These changes have effects on many levels, including the working conditions and practices of individuals involved in the information gaining process. This article aims to find out how the existing working conditions and practices at universities form the meanings, identities and experiences of individuals by focusing on precariously employed academics. I address this question based on a theoretical analysis and qualitative interviews with casualised academic staff.


            Author and article information

            Work Organisation, Labour and Globalisation
            Pluto Journals
            Spring 2018
            : 12
            : 1
            : 62-77
            © Thomas Allmer, 2018

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

            Sociology,Labor law,Political science,Labor & Demographic economics,Political economics
            universities,information work,academic labour,informational capitalism,precarious work,casualisation


            1. (2017) ‘Academic labour, digital media and capitalism’, Critical Sociology . OnlineFirst. https://doi.org/10.1177/0896920517735669.

            2. (2018) ‘Precarious, always-on and flexible: A case study of academics as information workers’, European Journal of Communication . Forthcoming.

            3. (2008) ‘The new neoliberal subjects? Young/er academics’ constructions of professional identity’, Journal of Education Policy , 23: 265–85.

            4. & (2000) ‘The casualisation of employment in higher education in the United Kingdom’, Academic Work and Life , 1: 187–241.

            5. (2012) ‘Living with the H-Index? Metric assemblages in the contemporary academy’, Sociological Review , 60: 355–72.

            6. & (2009) Tackling Stress in Higher Education . London: University and College Union.

            7. (2007) ‘Flexible and fixed times working in the academy’, Environment and Planning A , 39: 509–14.

            8. & (2009) ‘“Cognitive capitalism” and the rat race: How capital measures immaterial labour in British universities’, Historical Materialism , 17: 3–30.

            9. , & (2007) Knowledge, Higher Education, and the New Managerialism: The Changing Management of UK Universities . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

            10. (1999) Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-Technology Capitalism . Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

            11. (2005) ‘Cognitive capitalism and the contested campus’ in & (eds) Engineering Culture: On the Author as (Digital) Producer , New York: Autonomedia: 71–93.

            12. (2010) ‘Breaking the silence: The hidden injuries of the neoliberal university’ in & (eds) Secrecy and Silence in the Research Process: Feminist Reflections , Abingdon: Routledge: 228–44.

            13. (2014) ‘Academics, cultural workers and critical labour studies’, Journal of Cultural Economy , 7: 12–30.

            14. (2002) ‘Neoliberalism, corporate culture, and the promise of higher education: The university as a democratic public sphere’, Harvard Educational Review , 72: 425–63.

            15. (2010) The Immaterial: Knowledge, Value and Capital . London: Seagull Books.

            16. (2004) Doing Research in the Real World . London: SAGE.

            17. (2009) ‘Knowledge production and the superexploitation of contingent academic labor’, Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor , 16: 1–30.

            18. (2016) The Uberfication of the University . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

            19. Higher Education Statistics Agency (2016) Data and Analysis . https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis.

            20. & (2013) Higher Stress: A Survey of Stress and Well-Being among Staff in Higher Education . London: University and College Union.

            21. (2004) Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology . Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

            22. (2012) ‘If you're so smart, why are you under surveillance? Universities, neoliberalism, and new public management’, Critical Inquiry , 38: 599–629.

            23. & (2017) Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences . Harlow: Pearson.

            24. (1991) ‘Academics and their labour process’ in , & (eds) White-Collar Work: The Non-Manual Labour Process , Basingstoke: Macmillan Publishers: 109–37.

            25. , & (2016) ‘Effects of project-based research work on the career paths of young academics’, Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation , 10: 9–26.

            26. (2003) ‘Classical political economy and the role of universities in the new knowledge economy’, Globalisation, Societies and Education , 1: 153–68.

            27. (1997) ‘Disposable faculty: Part-time exploitation as management strategy’ in (ed.) Will Teach for Food: Academic Labor in Crisis , Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press: 264–77.

            28. & (1997) ‘Just how managed is the McUniversity?’, Organization Studies , 18: 287–316.

            29. (2000) ‘The mental labor problem’, Social Text , 18: 1–31.

            30. (1995) ‘Higher education and the state: The irony of Fordism in American universities’ in (ed.) Academic Work: The Changing Labour Process in Higher Education , Buckingham: Society for Research in Higher Education & Open University Press: 84–98.

            31. & (1999) Academic Capitalism: Politics, Policies, and the Entrepreneurial University . Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

            32. (1985) ‘Craft, hierarchy and bureaucracy: Modes of control of the academic labour process’, Canadian Journal of Sociology , 10: 369–90.

            33. (1999) ‘Adjuncts and more adjuncts: Labor segmentation and the transformation of higher education’ in (ed.) Chalk Lines: The Politics of Work in the Managed University , Durham: Duke University Press: 181–201.

            34. University and College Union (2014) UCU Survey of Work-Related Stress . London: University and College Union.

            35. University and College Union (2016) Workload is an Education Issue: UCU Workload Survey Report 2016 . London: University and College Union. https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/8195/Workload-is-an-education-issue-UCU-workload-survey-report-2016/pdf/ucu_workloadsurvey_fullreport_jun16.pdf.

            36. & (2011) ‘Burnout in university teaching staff: A systematic literature review’, Educational Research , 53: 33–50.

            37. (1995) ‘Managing the academics: Commodification and control in the development of university education in the UK’, Human Relations , 48: 993—1027.

            38. (2002) Storming Heaven: Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism . London: Pluto Press.


            Comment on this article