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Exploring Probationary Academic Citizenship in the Swiss Context with Professor Nicky le Feuvre

Gender inequality and precarity in academia in the European context: An international seminar series[1]

Monday 31st January 2022, 12:00 (GMT) /13.00 (CET) online

Hosted by the Centre for European & International Studies Research, University of Portsmouth


The seminar will be one hour; Guests are welcome to stay on for networking with colleagues from institutions and research centres involved in this seminar series. Please register for this free session via this link.


Speaker: Professor Nicky Le Feuvre (Lausanne University, LIVES Centre)

Co-authors: Pierre Bataille (Grenoble-Alpes University) and Marie Sautier (Lausanne University + Sciences Po Paris, LIVES Centre) 

Abstract: In this presentation, we adopt the multi-level definition of academic citizenship (see Sümer, O’Connor, Le Feuvre, 2020), in order to explore the experiences of a particular group of postdocs working in a case-study Swiss university. Although the increasingly precarious employment status of postdocs has attracted considerable research attention in recent years (see, for example, Murgia & Poggio, 2018), little is known about the ‘feelings, experiences, and narratives of being included and excluded, recognized and misrecognized, heard or ignored’ (Roseneil et al., 2012: 5) that members of this transient intellectual labour force develop towards the academic institutions through which they pass in the course of their ‘precarious postdoc’ (Jones & Oakley, 2018) careers. Using biographical interview and focus group data collected in the course of the EU-funded GARCIA project, we adopt the notion of ‘probationary citizenship’, initially developed by migration scholars (Chauvin & Garcés-Mascarenas, 2012), to provide new insights into the contradictory expectations placed on this particular group of early-career academics, and analyse their implications for the gendering of academic citizenship more generally.


Nicky Le Feuvre is Full Professor of Sociology and Work at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) in Switzerland, where she is currently Dean of the Faculty of Social & Political sciences. She has researched widely the implications of women’s entry into higher-level occupations, from a cross-national comparative and life-course perspective. She is co-PI of the “Gender, Mobility & Occupations” module of the NCCR LIVES and a founding member of the Centre for Gender Studies. This presentation is based on a chapter entitled ‘Probationary or second-class citizenship? Postdoctoral experiences in the Swiss context’, co-authored with Pierre Bataille and Marie Sautier and published in Sevil Sümer (2020) (ed.) Gendered Academic Citizenship: Experiences and Challenges, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 65-101: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-52600-9_3

[1] Centre for European and International Studies, University of Portsmouth; Centre for Gender Studies, Oslo; Centre for Higher Education Futures, Aarhus; Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge; University of Glasgow School of Education: See here for details. This is an output of the Gender and precarity in academia working group, part of the European Universities-Critical Futures project. Please contact Charlotte Morris for further details: charlotte.morris@port.ac.uk