David Hill has a great post on his Schizomedia blog concerning ‘Precariousness and Public Sociology‘. David uses the recent social media reaction to the Great British class survey to think about sociology. In particular he looks at the use of the concept of the precariat and applies this to academic work, and particularly being an academic sociologist. David then explores the precariousness of academic work, highlighting the way in which the concept of the precariat is actually designed to reflect a growing sense of anxiety and instability a crosses economic classes. Here is a short excerpt:
If we think about what Sennett, Berardi, and Gill and Pratt are describing, then we begin to see the Precariat everywhere – and not just in white vans. Take an example I know well: academia. For the early career academic, contracts are difficult to come by. When you’re lucky you might get a year fixed term. You end up living from short-term contract to short-term contract, never sure whether or not you will be employed in the next academic year – whether or not you have a future. I’ve done this for the last two years; I love what I do but precariousness is an all-encompassing existential state for those who’ve recently completed their doctoral research. I’m lucky – I have a permanent lectureship in digital communication and culture lined up for the next academic year now. But anyone who expects a “permanent” contract to be protection from the confusion of work time-space and short-termism will be mistaken. Emails never stop arriving, weekends are for marking – and the REF (research audit) means you’re only as good as your recent submission. It should prove to be a precarious sort of permanence.