Weighing Up Futures: Experiences of Giving Up an Academic Career

  • Ruth BarcanEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Critical University Studies book series (PCU)


This chapter addresses the experiences of academics who have chosen to leave the profession early, or are seriously considering doing so. Drawing on thirty-four interviews with academics or former academics from Australia, the UK and beyond, it explores five themes: who is leaving; why they are leaving; the decision-making process; impact on their self; and the impact on others. The paper contributes to the literature on academic identity by analysing times when it is rendered precarious, actively negotiated or reformulated. Among its findings are: the importance of gender, the distresses of casualisation, the persistence of a strong sense of academic vocation, the impact of work intensification on physical and mental wellbeing, and academics’ discovery of healthy and intellectually satisfying professional lives outside the academy.


Academic identity Academic labour Leaving academia Career change Vocation Casualisation Gender 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Gender and Cultural StudiesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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