Sunday, September 26, 2010

A convenient blindness; sessional contracts in higher ed,%20L.%20Gale,%20I.%20Campbell.pdf

May,R., Gale, M., and Campbell, I.(2008). Casually appointed, permanently exploited: How is NTEU responding to the casualisation of academia in the current climate? Paper presented at AIRAANZ. Melbourne.

Many in the university community take comfort in the idea that sessional academic employment is a privilege and an opportunity – a kind of apprenticeship that leads to tenure. It may once have been so. However the data and the qualitative experience of sessional staff demonstrates that this is not the case in Australia in 2007, and has not been the case for many years. The illusion of the sessional apprenticeship, like the illusion that young people prefer casual employment, contributes to a convenient blindness that allows extreme exploitation to continue. That exploitation is not accidental or self-imposed. It is the necessary outcome of
decisions taken by governments, university administrations and staff in supervisory positions throughout a devolved budgetary structure.

This is an excellent article, that needs wider discussion.

It is so easy to attribute blame, but there are a myriad of factors that have resulted in the current situation.
An ANT analysis, without using the language of ANT comes through.
Revisiting the relational aspects in improving the current scenario would also be useful. For things can always be otherwise.
If you work with sessional staff, start with valuing them :)
The stories pointed to here are of unpleasant experiences; offensive and devaluing, largely invisible, but always personal.

Issues identified:
Not being provided the necessary conditions of work.
Being seen as being part of the problem.
A misleading terminology of flexibility and choice-
Most people do not like being seen as a disposable section of the workforce. Citing a large survey of general and academic casual staff by Junor (2004:284) found that over 80 percent of the casual academic staff who responded wanted ongoing employment.

The article cites Evans (2007)
As one casual academic noted: ‘It used to be that tutoring was a kind of indenture, a poorly paid but pleasant part of post graduate study, valuable experience on the path to an academic career... (now it) leads to nothing’.

Taking a 'relational turn' (Kenneth Gergen, 2009) is worth further consideration;
to approach human beings exclusively as seperate or bounded units- whether individual selves, communities...-is to threaten our future well-being ... It is through relational process that whatever we come to view as independent beings are given birth. ...whatever we think, remember, create and feel, we participate in relationship ...We carry with us traces of myriad relationships, past and present, existing or imagined. These traces equip us with multiple and often conflicting potentials for action. (p,397)

It is in relating, rather than avoiding or in pointing elsewhere a finger of blame, that there is potential for movement.

meantime, leading nowhere sounds like a potential paper...
Must finish the phd...

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