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Accepted Paper:

Once a researcher, always a researcher - a collective frame legitimising research activities during periods of unemployment  
Susanne Wollin-Giering (TU Berlin)

Long abstract:

Many academic careers are characterized by precarious working conditions, series of short-term contracts, project-based funding, and fierce competition for limited permanent positions, resulting in considerable uncertainty. This uncertainty is further increased by a hardly investigated phenomenon: phases of unemployment, occurring in all disciplines and career stages.

Notably, phases of unemployment are actively used for the continuation of the research career, e.g. for finishing publications, conducting experiments, conference participation, or literature research. Unemployed researchers thus adhere to a collective interpretive frame that justifies continuing research as a pathway to sustaining their academic careers.

Based on interviews with 20 researchers from different fields such as ethnology, sociology, plant biology, and astronomy, I will show how this frame is enacted and maintained in practice by looking at 1) irritations to and 2) factors stabilising the frame.

Hence, I will analyse the conflicting frames researchers face: on the researcher's side an exit frame in the form of the awareness of non-academic career paths as legitimate alternatives; and frames from non-academic actors, such as the expectations of employment agencies that do not fit well with academic careers. Likewise, I will consider epistemic, personal, financial and temporal factors, along with social networks, that may facilitate or impede adherence to the frame to continue research.

Traditional Open Panel P215
Frame analysis in science studies
  Session 1