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Issues, events, & breaking news from ICES & Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
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THE NEW ACADEMIC WORK, BULLYING, MOBBING AND FREEDOM
THE NEW ACADEMIC WORK, BULLYING, MOBBING AND FREEDOM
Stephen Petrina, Sandra Mathison & E. Wayne Ross
The convergence of the casualization, fragmentation, intensification, segmentation, shifting and creep of academic work with the post-9/11 gentrificaton of criticism and dissent is arguably one of the greatest threats to academic freedom since the Nazi elimination of the Jewish professoriate and critique in 1933, Bantu Education Act’s reinforcement of apartheid in South Africa in 1952, and McCarthyism in Canada and the US in the 1950s and 1960s. In the history of education, this would be quite the claim yet the evidence seems to speak for itself. Academic work has been fragmented into piecemeal modes and intensified as academics absorbed, through amalgamation, traditional clerical staff and counseling work. The balance of the academic workforce has been reduced and casualized or segmented to an “at whim,” insecure, unsalaried part-time labor pool, the 8-hour workday and 40-hour academic workweek collapsed to 60-80 hours, and the primary locus of academic work shifted off-campus as the workplace crept into the home and its communal establishments. Academic stress— manifested as burnout through amalgamation and creep of work, and as distress through bullying, mobbing and victimization— underwrites increases in leaves of absence. Non-tenure track faculty are hit particularly hard, indicating “contingency or the precariousness of their position” as relentless stressors.
Nowadays, it’s whimsical to reminisce about work-life balance and promises that the academic workforce will be renewed as boomers retire with baited expectations, or that the workweek and workplace for salaried full-timers could be contained within the seduction of flextime and telecommuting. In many ways, the flexible workplace is the plan for boomers by boomers with both nest eggs and limits on retirement age breaking. As currency values, retirement portfolios, and savings spiral downward while dependent children and grandchildren and inflation spiral upward, incentives to retire erode. Precariously unemployed, underemployed and part-time academics aside, boomers still in the academic system are trended to face the biggest losses. As economic incentives to retire decrease, incentives for intellectual immortality and legacy management flourish with the boomers’ political leanings moving toward the center. One can hardly blame them.
Enthusiasts of anything “flexible” (learning, space, time, work, etc.) and everything “tele” (commuting, conference, learning, phone, work, etc.), academics readily workshift with additional liability but no additional remuneration— instead is an unquestioned acceptance of the “overtime exemption”— while the employer saves about $6,500 per year per worker in the tradeoff as worksite or workspace shifts from campus to home. The academic workweek is now conservatively 60 hours with many PT and FT reporting persistent 70-80 hour weeks. Perhaps academic women can finally have it all after putting in the 120 hour workweek. One reason institutions now cope with many fewer FT hires is that academics are all too willing to do the work of two. As Gina Anderson found a decade ago, “with apparently unconscious irony, many academics reported that they particularly valued the flexibility of their working week, in terms of both time and space… in the same breath as reporting working weeks in the order of 60 hours.” For most academic workers, the cost of flexibility is effectively a salary cut as overheads of electricity, heat, water, communication and consumables are shifted to the home. Carbon footprint reductions are a net benefit and for a minority, the savings of commuting and parking offset the costs of this homework or housework. What is the nature or implications of this increasing domestication of academic work and displacement of the academic workplace? For academic couples with or without children, the dynamics of housecohabitry, househusbandry or housewifery necessarily change as the academic workplace shifts and labor creeps into the home. With temptations to procrastinate on deluges of academic deadlines, academic homes have never been cleaner and more organized. Nevermind the technocreep of remote monitoring. Over the long run, although some administrators cling to the digital punch card and time stamp with Hivedesk, Worksnaps or MySammy, “smashing the clock” in the name of flextime and telework is about the best thing that ever happened to academic capitalism.
This is not exactly a SWOT analysis, where Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are given due treatment. Rather, the focus is on this threat convergence as it resolves through historic displacements of the academic workplace and work. To what degree are the new policies for academic speech inscribed in academic work, regardless of where it’s done? As the academic workplace is increasingly displaced and distributed, are academic policies displaced and distributed as well? Observed at work, monitored at home and tracked in between—these are not so much choices as the cold reality of 21st century academic work.
Read More: Threat Convergence
New Workplace Issue #24Academic Bullying & Mobbing
- Academic Bullying and Mobbing: Introduction to the Special Issue
Institute for Critical Education Studies
- Of Sticks and Stones, Words that Wound, and Actions Speaking Louder: When Academic Bullying Becomes Everyday Oppression
- Beyond Bullies and Victims: Using Case Story Analysis and Freirean Insight to Address Academic Mobbing
Julie Gorlewski, David Gorlewski, Brad Porfilio
- Graduate Students as Proxy Mobbing Targets: Insights from Three Mexican Universities
Florencia Peña Saint Martin, Brian Martin, Hilde Eliazer Aquino López, Lillian von der Walde Moheno
- Bullying in Academia Up Close and Personal: My Story
- Mobbing in the Context of a Woman’s Life
Rachel Morrison Kenney
- Pathogenic Versus Healthy Biofilms: A Metaphor for Academic Mobbing
Antonio Pedro Fonseca
- Threat Convergence: The New Academic Work, Bullying, Mobbing and Freedom
Stephen Petrina, Sandra Mathison, E. Wayne Ross
New Workplace Issue #25Reforming Academic Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and Higher Education
- Writing About Academic Labour
- Survival in the New Corporatized Academy: Resisting the Privatization of Higher Education
- The Radical Keynes: An Appraisal
- “A Multitude of Wedges:” Neoliberalism and Micro-Political Resistance in British Columbia’s Public Schools 2001-2014
- British Columbia Obstructs the Shock Doctrine: Struggle, Solidarity, and Popular Resistance
- Higher Education Reform in Bangladesh: An Analysis
Md Moazzom Hossain, Amir Md Khan
- Film Review of Economic Freedom in Action: Changing Lives
Sandra Ximena Delgado, Michelle Gautreaux
Critical Education is proud to be the sponsor journal for Critical Theories in the 21st Century4th annual:
critical theories in the twenty first century:
a conference of transformative pedagogies
november 6th & 7th
CRITICAL PEDAGOGY VS. CAPITAL:
REIGNITING THE CONVERSATION
The Department of Professional and Secondary Education
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Closing Conference Keynote (November 7th):
Call For Papers
The 4th Annual Conference on Critical Theories in the 21st Century aims to reinvigorate the field of critical pedagogy. The primary question driving this conference is: What is to be done to make critical pedagogy an effective educational weapon in the current struggle against capitalism and imperialism?
There is no doubt that we are at a critical juncture in history in terms of the limits of nature’s vital ecosystems, the physical limits of the progressive accumulation of capital, and the deepening reactionary ideology and scapegoating that exacerbates the oppression of youth of color. If critical pedagogy is to play a significant role in intervening in the current context, then a sharpened sense of purpose and direction is needed.
Some examples of possible topics include:
- Challenging the unholy trinity of state, capital, and religion
- Class and the capital-labor dialectic
- Identity and economics
- Hierarchical and vertical forms of organization (i.e., vanguards versus networks)
- Reform versus revolution
- Socialism, communism, & democracy
- Affect theory and the new materialisms
- The knowledge economy, post-Fordism, and “cognitive capitalism”
- Critical geography
While this conference will include important presentations and debates in critical pedagogy, it will not be limited to this focus. In other words, as critical theory becomes more inclusive, global, and all encompassing, this conference welcomes more than just academics as important contributors. That is, we recognize students and youth groups as possessing authentic voices based on their unique relationship to capitalism and will therefore be open to them as presenters and discussion leaders.
While this conference will include important presentations and challenging discussions based in critical pedagogy, it will not be limited to this focus. In other words, as critical theory becomes more inclusive, global, and all encompassing, this conference welcomes more than just academics as important contributors.
Please submit abstract proposals (500-1000 words) to:
Curry Malott (email@example.com)
Proposal due date: September 27th, 2015