Just 'non-academics'?: Research administrators and contested occupational identity

Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (SciVal)


Surprisingly perhaps, knowledge about occupational groups within academia is relatively scant, with an almost exclusive concentration upon teaching staff. The research upon which this article is based aims to fill this gap by focusing upon one specific group, which, to date, has been under-researched: research administrators. Utilizing primarily symbolic interactionist analyses, and based upon qualitative interviews, the project sought to investigate the occupational life-worlds of research administrators.The wide range of roles and divergent responsibilities covered by the title of ‘research administrator’ emerged as salient features, together with the boundary-crossing, ambiguous nature of much research administrative work.The article examines in particular the ‘identity work’ (Prus, 1996) undertaken by research administrators as they seek to resist categorization as ‘mere nonacademics’, and to counteract social invisibility. Administrative–academic relations were also found to constitute a core element within administrators' occupational life-worlds, and the article considers how the putative administrative/academic boundary is often problematized by research administrators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-288
Number of pages22
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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