Work, life, and imbalance: policies, practices and performativities of academic well-being

Saltmarsh, Sue and Randell-Moon, Holly (2014) Work, life, and imbalance: policies, practices and performativities of academic well-being. Somatechnics, 4 (2). pp. 236-252. ISSN 2044-0138


Work-life balance policies have become a ubiquitous feature of university strategies for formally recognising that employees have personal interests, ties and obligations beyond those of the workplace. However, rationales for work-life balance policies and programs in Australian universities predominantly link personal health, well-being and family responsibilities to imperatives for a more productive and competitive tertiary sector. In this paper, we call for an encounter between work-life balance policies, everyday organisational practices and the performativities of academic subjects. Informed by poststructuralist theories of institutionality, governmentality and subjectivity, we draw on personal and policy narratives to argue that ‘well-being’ is a construct through which the risky humanity of academic subjects is not only managed, but also appropriated into normative discourses of obligatory productivity and self-governance. Informed by Sara Ahmed's recent work on the cultural politics of emotion and in particular, what she terms the obligation or ‘duty to happiness’, we consider how academic performativities are implicated in discursive fictions that equate work-life balance with personal and organisational well-being.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 04:28
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2017 04:28
Uncontrolled Keywords: work-life balance; higher education; affect; governmentality; performativity
Fields of Research : 16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9304 School/Institution > 930403 School/Institution Policies and Development
C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9304 School/Institution > 930402 School/Institution Community and Environment
Identification Number or DOI: 10.3366/soma.2014.0130

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