Accepted paper:

Being lucky and making choices: making sense of mobility

Author:

Sarah Davies (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

International mobility is increasingly part of scientific careers. In this paper I ask: how do scientists make sense of, and narrate, their mobility experiences? I find diversity in sense-making, and discuss in particular concepts of 'luck' and 'choosing'.

Paper long abstract:

International mobility is increasingly part of scientific careers, part and parcel of heightened competition for permanent posts and the inevitability, for many scientists, of multiple short term contracts. Relatively little is known about experiences of such mobility, however, or about how it affects the construction of scientific identities. In this paper I explore these issues by asking: how do scientists make sense of, and narrate, their mobility experiences? My arguments are based on an interview study with 32 natural scientists at different stages of their careers, based in Denmark but from across the world, who had experienced living and working in a different country to that where they had been trained. An early finding was the diversity in sense-making concerning their experiences. Their narratives were not the same: they cited diverse rationales, affects, and imaginations concerning international mobility, and they did not all fit the pattern of being junior scientists looking for a tenured post. Some were angry about their mobility; others saw it as a benefit of their work. Despite practical similarities in these scientists' experiences, each account can be viewed as sitting at the centre of a web of narratives and sense-making devices, and as making use of specific aspects of these resources. In this paper I discuss in particular concepts of 'luck' and 'choosing' and the ways in which these are used as tools to narrate scientific careers, and thereby perform scientific identities.

panel F03
Scientists - agents under construction