Mobility and Professional Networks in Academia: An Exploration of the Obligations of Presence
30 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2016
Date Written: October 15, 2015
This article explores the obligations of presence behind work-related mobility for academics in internationalizing higher education systems. By further developing John Urry’s concept of ‘meetingness’, the article reveals how academics depend on corporeal and virtual mobility to create and maintain a networked professional life outside their own institution, which is crucial in the context of changing work conditions. Our insights are drawn from original qualitative research (42 interviews) in a Flemish and Danish context. The data reveal obligations of presence associated with an interrelated mix of functionality, and the construction of dense and sparse social networks that together support career success and work at the frontiers of academic knowledge. Despite the now well-recognised costs of corporeal mobility, obligations of presence result in virtual and corporeal mobility coexisting, rather than the former substituting for the latter. Virtual mobility is mainly used when conflicting obligations of presence exist, and as a means of sustaining networks over time given the processual nature of meetingness, rather than as a means to reduce levels of corporeal mobility.
Keywords: Academic mobility, meetingness, mobility obligations, internationalization, social networks
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