Contingent Labor in the Academy: Power, Precarity, and Ideology

Presented at the 2016 SWIP UK Conference.

The precarity of university employment is arguably most pervasive and urgent problem facing living academic philosophers today. In this paper, I argue that academics must take responsibility for the problem of precarious academic labor. I identify two sets of (gendered and racialized) myths and attitudes common amongst academics that contribute to academic precarity. By theorizing these myths and attitudes, I connect the problem of precarity to issues of bias and discrimination which have hitherto received much greater attention within the profession, arguing that commitment to the latter requires stronger commitment to the former. I conclude that academics have distinctive responsibilities to devote their considerable resources, skills, and expertise to working collectively against the rise of contingent academic labor.

For a full draft, email me at robin.zheng(at)