Discomforts in the academy: from ‘academic burnout’ to collective mobilisation

Sunčana Laketa, Muriel Côte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As part of a set of interventions on discomfort feminism, this article addresses how the politics of discomfort informs boundary work in the neoliberalized academic workplace in Switzerland. Departing from the authors’ engagements in a series of workshops on new forms of stress and pressure in academia and the effects of the deteriorating conditions of labor at their department, this article explores multiple and unevenly distributed emotions of discomfort generated by and through the workshops. We discuss discomfort as an affective orienting device that betrays the normative social space and the crossing of the personal-professional boundary in the academic workplace. This article explores the potentials and pitfalls of ‘staying with’ discomfort, rather than attempting to return within a comfort zone. We argue such affective politics can inform change in the neoliberalized workplace by reworking normative boundaries and helping mobilize different academic collectivities, ones based on care and shared vulnerability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-587
JournalGender, Place, and Culture
Issue number4
Early online date2022 Jan 25
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Social Sciences

Free keywords

  • Academia
  • affect
  • discomfort
  • mental health
  • neoliberal workplace
  • psychological distress


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