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The Tertiary Turn: Locating “The Academy” in Autobiographical Accounts of Activism in Manchester, UK and Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

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Abstract:  Activists often strategically negotiate sectoral boundaries by switching between public, private and voluntary sectors over the life course in order to pursue their aims. This paper draws on a cross‐national study that explored the extent of this inter‐sectoral movement and the specific “career pathways” activists developed in relation to governmental, private and voluntary/community sector organisations. Using an analysis of 46 biographical narratives gathered from activists in Manchester, UK and Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand during 2007 we situate “the academy” in these life stories of activism. Teasing out from these accounts the motivations behind a turn towards tertiary education at particular moments we examine how “academia” supports and sustains individual activists while legitimising and professionalising their activism. In so doing, we track the tactical transfer of knowledge, skills and expertise effected by contact with “the academy” to make substantive and conceptual claims around the future role universities might play in the knowledge economy.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, University of Stirling, UK 2: Division of Health Research, School of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, UK 3: School of Environment, University of Auckland, New Zealand 4: School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, UK 5: School of Social and Environmental Sciences, University of Dundee, UK 6: School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2011


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