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Moral barriers between work/life balance policy and practice in academia

Cannizzo, F., Mauri, C.ORCID: 0000-0003-3245-1044 and Osbaldiston, N. (2019) Moral barriers between work/life balance policy and practice in academia. Journal of Cultural Economy, 12 (4). pp. 251-264.

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Despite the proliferation of work/life balance policies in Australian universities, academic staff continue to report experiences of time pressure, anxiety, and over-work. This paper contributes to the research of academic time and career planning by exploring how early career academics engage with work/life balance policies, utilising a critical reading of Richard Sennett’s work on the corrosion of character in late capitalist economies. We find that policy engagement is tied into academics’ professional identities and perceptions of ‘good’ conduct. Drawing on interviews from a sample of 25 Australian early career academics, we argue that the failure of early career academics to use formal work/life balance policies is partially explained by the presence of workplace cultures that reward demonstrations of commitment to work roles. The use of work/life balance policies hence carries a moral cost, which participants report reflects on their character. This paper contributes to an understanding of how work/life balance policies are enacted at the level of department and individual, and argues that future research projects would benefit from attending to the construction of worker ideals within workplace cultures.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for University Teaching and Learning
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Copyright: © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
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