Subcontracting Academia: Alienation, Exploitation and Disillusionment in the UK Overseas Syrian Refugee Research Industry

Mayssoun Sukarieh, Stuart Tannock

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Abstract

As the political economy of social science research has shifted, subcontracted
research assistants have taken over an ever growing part of the research process.
In this article, we report on a case study of the experiences of local research assistants employed on UK-directed research projects on Syrian refugees in Lebanon. While refugeeresearch is framed in the UK as a noble project of helping the world’s most vulnerable, these assistants speak critically of their sense of alienation, exploitation and disillusionment with the research they work on. Such problems arise, we argue, not just from subcontracted labour relations in the workplace itself, but also the broader political economy of how overseas social science research is currently produced. Addressing
these problems requires giving better recognition to the work, interests and concerns of research assistants, but also rethinking and restructuring the global production of social science research more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)664-680
Number of pages17
JournalAntipode: a radical journal of geography
Volume51
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Keywords

  • alienation
  • exploitation
  • grant culture
  • refugee research
  • research assistants
  • subcontracted research

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