Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Shaunna L. Scott

Abstract

This is a mixed-methods comparative study of union and non-union graduate employees’ work experiences, following Wicken’s (2008) call for additional research into the graduate union movement. I used focus group interviews, finding that nonunionized participants had significantly more negative views of their work and faculty members than unionized participants. Non-unionized participants were also more likely to display greater internalization of neoliberal views and neoliberal subjectivity, and were more likely to see their problems in fatalistic terms. I found increased activity with the union to be associated with both decreased fear and anxiety as well as an increased sense of personal and collective agency in relation to work. These findings are analyzed using new social movement theories as well as the concepts of civil society, hegemony and counterhegemony, and cognitive liberation.

I used quantitative data on employment trends in higher education institutions to investigate the concept of the neoliberal university, finding support for central claims of this concept: undergraduate education is increasingly reliant on part-time, un-tenured staff and graduate employees. I also quantitatively investigated the graduate employee union (GEU) movement at a nation-wide scale, finding many union local to conform to Fantasia and Stepan-Norris’ (2007) concept of “social movement unionism.”

Included in

Sociology Commons

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