Paper short abstract:
Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork at two university departments in Austria and Denmark, this paper discusses how early-career anthropologists experience the unleashed competition they face which confronts them with ever growing performance pressures and precarious working conditions.
Paper long abstract:
Academic precarity is a multi-faceted phenomenon: While academics are increasingly and continuously subjected to short-term and part-time employment and expected to be repeatedly internationally mobile, developments which undermine the stability of both their economic situation as well as of their social networks, they are relatively free to self-determine their work to a high degree (both concerning its content as well as its organisation). Therefore, (particularly early-career) academics find themselves in the challenging situation of pursuing a seemingly privileged occupation demanding an extremely high commitment and specialisation of them, while at the same time struggling with insecure employment conditions, uncertain career perspectives and inadequate career alternatives. At the same time, they face an increasingly high competition for both internally as well as externally funded academic positions which inflates the demands they face for obtaining these positions. Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork at two university departments for social anthropology in Austria and Denmark, this paper discusses how these phenomena are experienced by early-career academics and how they intertwine, confronting these academics with new possibilities for (temporary) academic careers on the one hand and new hierarchies and dependencies on the other hand that leave them vulnerable to exploitation by both their superiors and themselves.
Early Career Scholars Forum: im/mobility, uncertainty and hope - critical reflections on academic precarity