Selling academe’s soul to the devil? Performativity, pressured professionalism and the rationalisation of knowledge production

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Abstract

Drawing upon data from two studies of academic working life - one of journal editorship and authorship, and the other of university professors – this chapter discusses pressures experienced by academics in the UK’s neoliberal university. Linda Evans outlines her conceptualisation of professionalism, including notions of ‘demanded’ professionalism – that which is implicitly or explicitly asked of a specific workforce – and ‘enacted’ professionalism, that which the workforce actually ‘does’. She illustrates how, manifesting itself as expectations held of an occupational group, ‘demanded’ professionalism shapes ‘enacted’ professionalism. Findings common to both studies reveal 21st century academe to make for a highly pressured work environment that frequently spawns performance angst. As academics try to meet the performativity-imposed challenges of such ‘pressured professionalism’, knowledge generation becomes undermined, thwarting potential for pioneering breakthroughs, and research integrity is compromised as data manipulation leads to epistemic corruption. In such ways, academe risks selling its soul to the devil.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUniversities in Crisis
Subtitle of host publicationAcademic professionalism in uncertain times
EditorsEric Lybeck, Catherine O'Connell
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing PLC
Chapter3
Pages[41-72]
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781350250000
ISBN (Print)9781350249981
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • workplace stress
  • ‘demanded’ professionalism
  • ‘enacted’ professionalism
  • academic leadership
  • getting published
  • epistemic worthiness

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