Between Career Progression and Career Stagnation: Casualisation, Tenure, and the Contract of Indefinite Duration in Ireland

Mariya Ivancheva, Micheal O'Flynn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In recent years, debates about rising corporate influence and control over higher education have emerged. Considerable attention has been given to developments in the USA, where the process is, arguably, most advanced (see Apple 2005; Hill 2005). In this chapter, we relate these issues to the role of tenure in academic life. We explore the traditions of tenured employment, which many see as a weapon or asset in the struggle against the relentless commercialisation and casualisation of higher education. We do not proceed with a view to returning to an imagined golden age (see Clarke 2010), but with a view to transformation, as is required to make the best of the present and to secure the future. With a focus on Ireland, we examine the contract of indefinite duration (CID) as a peculiar form of tenure that permits interpretations that downgrade those employed under its premise. With reference to a number of cases, we examine the struggles that academics face in obtaining these permanent contracts. We consider how the absence of security and stability impacts on people’s lives and their capacity to develop as researchers and teachers. We address deteriorating working conditions and consider how they prevent a growing number of academics from engaging productively with their colleagues, caring for their students, or even caring adequately for themselves (see Lynch 2010). We suggest that by outsourcing work previously carried out under permanent contracts of employment, universities demonstrate a stubborn refusal to contribute to the formation of secure occupational identities among those hoping to live and work as academics. We argue that though CIDs do offer the closest thing to job security amid increasingly destructive commercial forces, such half-hearted solutions can also be used as a tool for antagonising further the ever more stratified academic community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademic Labour, Unemployment and Global Higher Education
Subtitle of host publicationNeoliberal Policies of Funding and Management
EditorsSuman Gupta, Jernej Habjan, Hrvoje Tutek
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781137493248
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2016

Publication series

NamePalgrave Critical University Studies


  • Ireland
  • precarity
  • inequality
  • employment relations
  • tenuure
  • career
  • higher education
  • global financial crisis


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