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An Autoethnography of “Making It” in Academia: Writing an ECR “Journey” of Facebook, Assemblage, Affect, and the Outdoors

Stanley, Phiona



While much has been written to guide early career researchers (ECRs) and those charged with socializing them into academic ontologies, much less is known about ECRs’ own experiences of becoming academic. This article presents a narrative, new-materialist account—drawing on Facebook updates and personal diaries—of one ECR’s experience. Interdisciplinary theorizing is proposed, using work-types and zones-of-development models. Individualism is problematized within three contexts: autoethnography as method, the materiality of affect within ECR assemblages, and the limited capacity of any individual ECR to effect systemic change. As ECRs are driven to produce ever more, and thus to “succeed,” they are their own nexus of accountability, making overwork and burnout endemic. So, although ECRs may progress from adaptive to technical work and from proximal to actual zones of development, their workload has no ceiling. Issues of “balance” are therefore retheorized within the assemblage, with extant models critiqued as problematically dependent on neoliberal framings of individual responsibility.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 3, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 14, 2022
Publication Date 2023-06
Deposit Date Sep 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 15, 2022
Journal Journal of Contemporary Ethnography
Print ISSN 0891-2416
Electronic ISSN 1552-5414
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 52
Issue 3
Pages 404-431
Keywords early career researchers, affect, assemblage, overwork, autoethnography
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