[csaa-forum] postgrad labour

Glen Fuller g.fuller at uws.edu.au
Mon Jul 18 15:29:27 CST 2005

Hi again list,

Thankyou so much for the off-list replies (there have been many!!). I will
assemble a document and post it to the list that addresses and organises
some of the main issues I originally wanted to discuss, but also some of the
issues that have emerged in the responses.

Oh, thanks for not giving me too much a hard time about my 'either/or' and
not 'and' stuff up in the make shift survey. (Yes, it is possible to be
employed as a casual academic _and_ outside the university system at the
same time or during the same PhD/postgrad period. Andandand... oh the
deleuzians should find that funny.)

If anyone else has some general comments on this issue of 'junior' casual
non-academic and academic university labour in general please pass them on
to me. 

Also, if anyone is interested in these sorts of issues, here are a few
references I have found online mainly through DEST:


Pickersgill, R., van Barneveld, K. and Bearfield, S. (1998) "General and
Academic work, are they different?" Department of Employment, Education,
Training and Youth Affairs, Evaluations and Investigations Program 98/10

They offer a solid no-nonsense pre-1996 definition of the academic and
general staff. Postgrads are treated as students/apprentices.


DEST (2001) "Factors associated with completion of research higher degrees"
higher education series HES 37

Report outlines some of the mainly institutional issues surrounding
completion of a PhD. PhD = research training.


Anderson, D., R. Johnson, and L Saha. (2002) "Changes in Academic Work"

Valiant effort accounting for post-Dawkins changes and especially post-1996
changes (wrought by consecutive conservative governments). Still imagines a
vertical model of career development even though it has an extensive section
on the (negative) impact of the increased casualisation of the academic
workforce. For anyone living in the early part of this 'development' process
it is clear the hierarchical vertical model has to make way for a more
realistic horizontal model of casual 'knowledge' workers. It also has my
favourite passage, a quote from a Law academic on 'speaking out' about the
situation in universities (p. 57):

"This university is a dictatorship. Managers use any method they can to get
rid of anyone who opposes them - the only safeguard many people have is that
they have so many skeletons in the cupboard that if you know of them they
cannot afford to sack you without negotiating a good payout because they are
frightened of the bad publicity. (Lecturer, Law)"

If the tv network 'creatives' are on the ball, then it appears there should
be a clone of a Melrose Place-cum-Dangerous Housewives tv show set in a
university law faculty... 


Junor, A. (2004) "What Explains the Employment Mode Preferences of Casual
University Employees?" AIRAANZ 2004 Conference

An excellent paper based on good research that examines what needs improving
rather than licking the lollypop of ideological rhetoric and telling us how
sweet it is. (PS Thanks to Melanie Swalwell of Victoria University for
letting me know about Junor's work!!)

Lastly, before I get into trouble;), and in response to worried queries from
some respondents, the only reason I am asking these questions is because I
am very lucky to be located in a very supportive research centre at the
Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney. If I felt
threatened (ie exploited), then I probably would not ask such a questions
for fear of what sort of response would follow. I have never had a problem
with employment or funding; in fact, I am on a good scholarship and have
travelled overseas, to conferences and so on. This security is what made me
realise that other postgrads -- people I have met at conferences and other
events who come from various universities around Australia and the world --
do not have it so lucky. 


PhD Candidate 
Centre for Cultural Research
University of Western Sydney

Read my rants: http://glenfuller.blogspot.com/

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