Feminist work in academia and beyond

Orla Murray, Muireann Crowley, Lena Wanggren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter explores feminist work in academia, couching personal experiences of early career feminist academics in methodological discussions of Dorothy Smith’s feminist approach to institutional ethnography. By using Smith’s expanded notion of ‘work’ which includes the invisible emotional and social labour that is essential to the running of the university, yet is often unpaid and underappreciated, the authors provide a feminist critique of the neoliberal university. Doing this, they identify issues such as casualisation, workload and preconceptions around the academic ‘lifestyle’ as feminist issues, especially for early career feminists in higher education. Reflecting on their own experiences as early career feminist academics, they explore the negotiation of feminist aims within institutional boundaries. Work carried out by women, casualised staff, and postgraduate students in higher education is essential yet often unacknowledged or valued as ‘proper’ academic work. By asking who organises the post-seminar wine reception, whose shoulders we cry on, and whether or not this is considered work, they highlight the gendered, racialised, and classed hierarchies of academia and their institutional reproduction. The authors of this chapter state that their work might be co-opted by the neoliberal university, thus becoming complicit themselves in furthering the institution’s aims. However, in identifying the spaces where invisible work is done and underappreciated, the authors argue that feminists can find space to resist and agitate for change. In combining feminist research with activism, specifically through teaching, collaboration projects with activists, and trade union organising in higher education, this chapter challenges the dichotomies of feminist theory and praxis, feminist academia and activism
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeing an Early Career Feminist Academic
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Perspectives, Experiences, and Challenges
EditorsRachel Thwaites, Amy Godoy-Pressland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9781137543257
ISBN (Print)9781137543240
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • trade union
  • emotional labour
  • feminist issue
  • permanent staff
  • Research Excellence Framework


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