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Precarity and dehumanisation in higher education

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Olivia Mason, Professor Nick MegoranORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


The increased reliance of universities on a pool of highly skilled but poorly paid casualised academic labour for teaching and research has emerged as a defining feature of higher education provision under neoliberal New Public Management. Based on seventeen visual timeline interviews with academics in the North East of England, this article augments and extends existing studies of precarity through a framing of dehumanisation and humanisation. Specifically, we suggest casualisation is dehumanising in four ways: it renders individuals invisible; vulnerable to exploitation; denies them academic freedom; and hampers them in constructing a life narrative projecting into the future. We conclude that casualisation is not simply as the product of a reprehensible political economy but that it is an afront to the very meaning and dignity of being human.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mason O, Megoran N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences

Year: 2021

Volume: 14

Issue: 1

Pages: 35-59

Print publication date: 01/03/2021

Online publication date: 01/03/2021

Acceptance date: 30/09/2020

Date deposited: 03/11/2020

ISSN (print): 1755-2273

ISSN (electronic): 1755-2281

Publisher: Berghahn Journals


DOI: 10.3167/latiss.2021.140103


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