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

Article


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. https://doi.org/10.3366/soma.2014.0130
Article Title

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

ERA Journal ID201511
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsSaltmarsh, Sue (Author) and Randell-Moon, Holly (Author)
Journal TitleSomatechnics
Journal Citation4 (2), pp. 236-252
Number of Pages17
Year2014
Place of PublicationEdinburgh, Scotland
ISSN2044-0138
2044-0146
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3366/soma.2014.0130
Web Address (URL)http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/soma.2014.0130
Abstract

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.

Keywordswork-life balance; higher education; affect; governmentality; performativity
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390203. Sociology of education
390303. Higher education
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Byline AffiliationsAustralian Catholic University
Macquarie University
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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