Project

Functions and Consequences of Unemployment in Researchers' Careers

Goal: The aim of the project is to explore the impact of researcher unemployment on the continuation of academic careers. The project identifies the specific 'fit' of unemployment with field-specific research practices, the ways in which research activities are continued during unemployment, and the resulting effects on the continuation of careers. These links between conditions, processes and effects of phases of unemployment in academic careers have not yet been investigated. They lie in a no man’s land between labor market research, which is only marginally interested in variation between occupations and neglects the specifics of research both conceptually and empirically, and research on academic careers, which is sensitive to specifics of research but neglects unemployment. Responding to this gap, our project identifies the conditions and mechanisms that enable a successful continuation of an academic career despite phases of unemployment.
The empirical strategy of the project is a mixed-method approach that combines comparative cases studies with a quantitative analysis on which we co-operate with the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies. The core of the project is a series of case studies of researcher unemployment, which are based on semi-structured interviews with researchers who are currently unemployed or experienced phases of unemployment in the past. These case studies establish the links between field-specific research practices, the way in which researchers deal with phases of unemployment, and the effects of unemployment on further careers. In addition, the analysis of standardized data on phases of unemployment in academic careers will establish the extent of phases of unemployment in careers in different scientific fields and links between frequency, times of occurrence and duration of unemployment, on the one hand, and the further progression of careers, on the other hand.

Methods: Semi Structured Interview, mixed-method approach, comparative cases studies, quantitative analysis of standardized data

Date: 1 December 2019 - 30 November 2022

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Susanne Wollin-Giering
added a research item
see: https://kongress2020.soziologie.de/posterausstellung-digital Mit Arbeitslosigkeit werden meist negative Folgen für die spätere Karriere, z.B. weitere Stellenverlus-te, Einkommensverluste und Stigmatisierung, assoziiert. Diese „Narbeneffekte der Arbeitslosigkeit“ genannten Wirkungen sind vielfach untersucht (z.B. Gangl 2004; Gregg/Tominey 2005). Im Gegensatz dazu gibt es in Wissenschaftskarrieren Hinweise darauf, dass Phasen der Arbeitslosigkeit durchlaufen werden, ohne dass Narben entstehen. Forscher*innenarbeitslosigkeit, ihre Bedingungen, Prozesse und Effekte wurden aber bisher nicht explizit untersucht. Zur Analyse benutzen wir ein von Gläser und Laudel (2015) entwickeltes Modell der akademischen Karrieren. Es teilt Forschungskarrieren in drei einzelne, sich beeinflussende Karrieren auf: eine kogniti-ve (aufbauende Forschungsprozesse), eine organisationale (Folge von Organisationsstellen) und eine Community-Karriere in der Fachgemeinschaft. Arbeitslosigkeit ist dabei definiert durch das Fehlen einer Stelle in der Organisationskarriere. Mit Ein-tritt der Arbeitslosigkeit verlieren Forscher*innen neben dem Einkommen auch für ihre Forschung notwendige Infrastrukturen (z.B. informelle Beziehungen, technische Ressourcen). Dieser fehlende Zugang kann den Inhalt der Arbeit, also die Produktion neuen wissenschaftlichen Wissens, das für langfristige Forschungsprogramme (weitere kognitive Karriere), wissenschaftliche Reputation (weitere Community-Karriere) und neue Stellen (weitere Organisationskarriere) notwendig ist, verändern, er-schweren oder verhindern. So verstanden können Forscher*innenkarrieren „inhaltliche Narbeneffek-te“ erfahren. Es gibt aber auch Bedingungen, unter denen keine negativen Folgen für die Karrieren auftreten und die Fortsetzung von Forschungsaktivitäten möglich ist. Wir möchten diese Bedingungen identifizieren, die fachgebietsspezifische „Passung“ der Arbeitslosigkeit zu bestimmten Phasen und Aufgaben in Forschungsprozessen klären und Mechanismen beschreiben, die Karrieren über Arbeitslo-sigkeit hinweg stabilisieren und deren Fortsetzung ermöglichen. Dazu führen wir mittels semi-strukturierter Interviews mit aktuell und ehemals arbeitslosen For-scher*innen vergleichende Fallstudien durch, die die Zusammenhänge zwischen 1) den Forschungs-praktiken der Fachgebiete, 2) den Umgang von Forscher*innen mit Arbeitslosigkeit und 3) den Effek-ten von Arbeitslosigkeit für die weiteren Karrieren, erklären sollen. Unemployment is usually associated with negative consequences for later careers, such as further job losses, loss of income and stigmatization. These "scar effects of unemployment" have been investigated in many studies (e.g. Gangl 2004; Gregg/Tominey 2005). In contrast, there is evidence in academic careers that phases of unemployment are passed through without scarring. However, researcher`s unemployment, its conditions, processes and effects have not yet been explicitly investigated. For analysis, we use a model of academic careers developed by Gläser and Laudel (2015). It divides research careers into three distinct, interrelated careers: a cognitive career (connected research processes), an organizational career (sequence of organizational positions), and a community career in the professional community. Unemployment is defined by the absence of a position in the organizational career. With the onset of unemployment, researchers lose not only their income but also the infrastructure necessary for their research (e.g. informal relationships, technical resources).This lack of access can change, complicate or prevent the production of new scientific knowledge necessary for long-term research programs (further cognitive career), scientific reputation (further community career) and new jobs (further organizational career). Understood in this way, researchers can experience "content-related scarring effects" in their careers. But there are also conditions under which no negative consequences for careers occur and the continuation of research activities is possible. We would like to identify these conditions, clarify the discipline-specific "fit" of unemployment to certain phases and tasks in research processes, and describe mechanisms that stabilize careers across unemployment and enable their continuation. To this end, we will conduct comparative case studies by means of semi-structured interviews with current and former unemployed researchers. These case studies will explain the connections between 1) research practices in the disciplines, 2) how researchers deal with unemployment, and 3) the effects of unemployment on their future careers. Literature: Gangl, Markus, 2004. Welfare states and the scar effects of unemployment: A comparative analysis of the United States and West Germany. American Journal of Sociology 109(6): 1319-1364. Gläser, Jochen und Grit Laudel, 2015. The Three Careers of an Academic. ZTG Discussion Paper 35/2015. Berlin: TU Berlin, Center for Technology and Society. Gregg, Paul und Emma Tominey, 2005. The wage scar from male youth unemployment. Labour Economics 12(4): 487-509.
Susanne Wollin-Giering
added a project goal
The aim of the project is to explore the impact of researcher unemployment on the continuation of academic careers. The project identifies the specific 'fit' of unemployment with field-specific research practices, the ways in which research activities are continued during unemployment, and the resulting effects on the continuation of careers. These links between conditions, processes and effects of phases of unemployment in academic careers have not yet been investigated. They lie in a no man’s land between labor market research, which is only marginally interested in variation between occupations and neglects the specifics of research both conceptually and empirically, and research on academic careers, which is sensitive to specifics of research but neglects unemployment. Responding to this gap, our project identifies the conditions and mechanisms that enable a successful continuation of an academic career despite phases of unemployment.
The empirical strategy of the project is a mixed-method approach that combines comparative cases studies with a quantitative analysis on which we co-operate with the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies. The core of the project is a series of case studies of researcher unemployment, which are based on semi-structured interviews with researchers who are currently unemployed or experienced phases of unemployment in the past. These case studies establish the links between field-specific research practices, the way in which researchers deal with phases of unemployment, and the effects of unemployment on further careers. In addition, the analysis of standardized data on phases of unemployment in academic careers will establish the extent of phases of unemployment in careers in different scientific fields and links between frequency, times of occurrence and duration of unemployment, on the one hand, and the further progression of careers, on the other hand.