Call For Papers: The Poverty of Academia – Exploring the Realities of Working Class Academics

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The Journal of Working-Class Studies Special Issue, December 2017: The Poverty of Academia: Exploring the (Intersectional) Realities of Working Class Academics

Educational attainment is often framed as positive, having the liberatory potential to free the socio-economically marginalized from their constraints. There is little if ever any mention of the unchained slavery of debt and low wages that ties working-class academics to perpetual bondage. Once working class academics become subsumed into the Ivory Tower, assumptions of class privilege are immediately attached to their bodies: they are perceived as solidly middle class. But many individuals within academic settings occupy marginal positions. This marginalization has led to the creative use and understanding of an “outsider within” status.  This special issue attempts to uncover the influences of class status (among other axes of identity) on academics who still occupy this socioeconomically disadvantaged position. Far too often, these stories exist in siloes of private messages, listservs, and Facebook groups. This CFP hopes to move these singular stories of pain and struggle to a forum where the commonalities among these stories as well as the structural influences sustaining these realities can be collectively recognized.

As Deborah Warnock (2016) illustrates, working-class academics describe the precarious nature of their existences inside the tower. In the work she conducted, she identified five key themes that comprise the marginal existence of working-class academics: 1) alienation, 2) lack of cultural capital, 3) encountering stereotypes and microaggressions, 4) experiencing survivor guilt and the impostor syndrome, and 5) struggling to pass in a middle-class culture that values ego and networking. Two additional narratives are also emerging as part of this interlocking web of marginality: student debt and increased exploitation of adjunct labor.

This special issue, continuing along the path charted by Warnock and others, seeks to center these working class scholar narratives. We pay particular attention to the intersecting reality of working class scholars, highlighting the impossible web that many women, LGBT individuals, disabled scholars, people of color, religious minorities, etc. navigate to exist within academia.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Publishing AND perishing
  • Negotiating while Woman
  • Cultural capital
  • Employment and debt​ (including student loan debt)
  • Parenting while poor and professor
  • Navigating immigration
  • Failed academic job search/ faltering academic job market
  • Demands of travel (relocation, conference travel, speaking, etc)
  • Family (broadly defined) (changing relationships, perceptions of family/by family, finances)
  • (Hiding) Class and sexuality
  • Class concerns at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions
  • Negotiating want vs need/ relative poverty
  • Part time/contingent/adjunct faculty income/debt
  • Perceptions of competence (impostor syndrome)
  • Sharing/community building
  • Stigma (covert or overt)
  • “Bad and Boujee”
  • “All poor but the Prez”

We endeavour to publish timely as well as academically rigorous articles, therefore the deadline for submissions is September 1st 2017. Send submissions and inquiries to academicpoverty@gmail.com.