Thinking beyond the Third Space: How can we conceptualise the position of Associate Lecturers in Higher Education?

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Abstract

This paper aims to conceptualise the changing nature of work within Higher Education that continues in response to a number of drivers, not least the impact of neo-liberal ideas. One important aspect of the discourse on changing work practices is the blurring of historic boundaries between academics and administrators as universities search for more efficient ways of managing resources and inter-disciplinary teams. In particular, the idea of the ‘third space’ has been put forward to explain the emerging dynamics within Higher Education–but how inclusive is this conceptualisation of the working environment within universities? This paper reports on the perceptions of Associate Lecturers of their position within a Business School and suggests that we may need to think beyond the third space in order to understand their experience of work, and explore the possibility of a fourth space. The research was conducted through interviews and informed by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The findings support the idea of a fourth space to locate Associate Lecturers and inform a conceptual framework centred on the key findings of context, contract, communication and coherence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-279
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Volume47
Issue number2
Early online date16 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2023

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