Differential experiences of time in academic work : how qualities of time are made in practice

Spurling, Nicola (2015) Differential experiences of time in academic work : how qualities of time are made in practice. Time and Society, 24 (3). pp. 367-389. ISSN 0961-463X

[thumbnail of T_S_revisedsubmitted]
PDF (T_S_revisedsubmitted)
T_S_revisedsubmitted.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (409kB)


Increasing time pressures, an accelerating pace of work and the need to juggle an increasing number of competing demands are common experiences of academics working in contemporary universities. At the same time, notions of ‘time famine’ and ‘time squeeze’ have formed relatively long-standing topics of social science research and popular debate. This article draws together interviews with 15 academics based in sociology departments at four UK universities, with existing research on time, work and leisure to explore the social dynamics that underpinned these academics’ experiences. The paper argues that it is not only quantities of overall work, but the qualities of time made through everyday work, which are important for academics’ experiences of time. In particular, the paper identifies three key mechanisms that pull towards the fragmentation of daily and weekly schedules: work–leisure boundary making, organisational structuring of time and the intrinsic rhythms of practices. These mechanisms combined in different configurations depending on institution type and career stage, advantaging some and disadvantaging others. The paper provides an alternative to existing accounts about the effects of new managerialism and audit culture on academic practice, which focus on how increasing amounts of work ‘squeeze time’, and suggests that we should equally be concerned with how qualities of time are made in practice, and the effects of contemporary contexts on these processes.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Time and Society
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Time and Society on 24/03/2015, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1177/0961463X15575842
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? academic workloadtheories of practicetime squeezeuniversity reformacademic careershigher education policysociology and political science ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
28 Jul 2015 12:18
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 15:18