Towards A Sociology Of Academic Work

  • Christine Musselin
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 24)

Different factors push for the inscription of the sociology of academic work on the research agenda. A first one stems from the fact it is still a relatively under-covered perspective in the study of the academic profession and thus can renew the existing approaches. But, fundamentally, the need to develop such a perspective is first of all that it is increasingly relevant at a time when in many countries universities are becoming more autonomous, more managed, more assessed, more responsible and more accountable. This evolution, combined with the massification experienced by this sector, is leading to a form of industrialisation of academic activities and to the progressive transformation of the higher education sector into a kind of industry (Gumport 2000). The impact of this major change on academic work has to be studied.

This shift in the nature of the higher education sector is better noticeable in countries like the United Kingdom where reforms informed by the new public management narratives (Ferlie et al. 1996; Ferlie and Musselin 2008) and managerialist rhetoric were implemented. In the comparative work led in the late 1990s by Marianne, Ivar Bleiklie, Mary Henkel and Maurice Kogan on Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom (Bauer et al. 1999; Bleiklie et al. 2000; Kogan et al. 2000), this last country clearly appears as the one where national public policies on the one hand (Kogan and Hanney 2000) and the internal governance of the higher education institutions on the other, have been the more radically and deeply transformed. Within this collective project, it is the originality of Mary Henkel's research and book (Henkel 2000) to aim at looking at the impact of this evolution on British academics from an innovative perspective. Building on the notion of community, she decided to shed light on the interplay between institutional and professional constraints. Thus, stating that academics are simultaneously affiliated to an institution and to a discipline, Mary Henkel decided to question the impact of the institutional changes on academics by looking at their identities and beliefs but also at their activities and practices.


High Education Institution High Education System Academic Work Academic Activity High Education Sector 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  • Christine Musselin

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