22 SES 12 C, Contextualizing and Problematizing Academic Work in Today’s Universities: An International Perspective 1
This paper draws on a Canadian longitudinal study (biographic questionnaires, weekly activity logs, pre-interview questionnaires and interviews) of 25 doctoral students, post-PhD researchers, and new lecturers in the sciences, an under-researched group of individuals (Leonard et al, 2006). The analysis focused on individual’s perceptions of opportunity structures (what is understood to be the available career opportunities at any point in time) and horizons for action (what is personally viewed as attractive or viable within opportunity structures) (McAlpine & Turner, in press). For instance, doctoral and post-PhD researchers understood the opportunity structures – that one or two post-docs were essential to getting a pre-tenure post. Still, horizons for action varied. Sam had imagined an academic career but was now considering a policy position to avoid the post-doc moves required and return to his partner. Fracatun had taken a local post-doc hoping for a local lectureship so his wife could continue her job. But acknowledging the opportunity structures after several years, he broadened his horizons and quickly found a lectureship in another country. In summary, opportunity structures and horizons for action conceptualize the interweaving of the intentions of individuals and the reproductive features of society (Archer, 2000) in negotiating academic employment.
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