Panel B.01 — Am I doing enough? Processes of “resignification” of academic work between precarization and pressure on productivity

Convenors Martina Visentin (University of Padova, Italy); Orazio Giancola (University of Rome “Sapienza”)

Keywords Higher education; Academic careers; Individual and collective strategies; Slow fast academia; well-being and work-life balance in academia


In recent years, scholars attempting to enter academic work have been living in a constant compression between the effects and contradictions of the university’s evaluative reforms and those of reforms on the legal status of the researcher. These reforms aim to improve the quality of teaching, research, and overall academic contribution of faculty, as well as to provide appropriate recognition and incentives for their work. They also entailed negative effects such as excessive standardization and loss of diversity by favoring conformity over diversity of research approaches and styles, pushing toward an excessive focus on quantitative output. The strong emphasis on the quantity of publications and funding to be obtained continuously and quickly thus produces a self-feeding mechanism. In connection with these changes, we can observe that researcher selection processes also go through common trends that accentuate choices toward profiles in which academic excellence and a strong competitive attitude seem to emerge. Moreover, this process takes place in a university system characterized by strong precariousness caused by government funding policies, which often do not provide sufficient resources to guarantee job stability for academics. The combination of these pushes on the one hand impacts entry, stabilization, and career paths and on the other can increase stress and anxiety, undermining the physical and mental well-being of academics, often compromising their work-life balance. This panel aims to gather research contributions and theoretical and policy reflections on the effects of evaluative reforms in relation to the selection and career processes of researchers in relation. An additional topic is related to the strategies implemented by researchers in terms of the construction of subjectivity and individual or collective responses to the highlighted contradictions, as well as to the in regard to Fast/Slow academia dichotomy.


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