22 SES 13 C, Contextualizing and problematizing Academic Work in Today’s Universities: An International Perspective 2
The Working Lives team has examined academic perceptions of the decline of autonomy and morale, and the impacts of technology in today’s HE workplace (Cook et al 2009). These studies, funded by ESRC/WERN (2007-2010) and conducted by an interdisciplinary team based in Wales (UK), were influenced theoretically by literatures in the sociology of employment and studies in cultural anthropology. Data collection included 24 individual and four ‘group’ interview sessions, involving the use of visual elicitation techniques (Stanzak, 2007). Despite challenging times, shifting job boundaries and uncertain futures, academics appear to have retained a key occupational advantage in the sector. It has been they, principally, who have reported the ‘policy and experience stories’ of HE working life to date. This power of ‘voice’ is in contrast with that of other groups in HE, and the authors draw in particular on studies of staff in learning-related roles in technology and educational development (Gornall, 2009). Such groups are close to academic work but are typically on non academic contracts. They have their own stories to tell. The discussion raises questions about contemporary HE notions of ‘career’ and change, and about the recording and dissemination of ’working lifestories’ in the academy itself
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