Tales of precarity: A reflexive essay on experiencing the COVID pandemic as a social work educator on a precarious contract.
This is a reflexive essay that documents my experience of being a social work educator and early career researcher on a precarious contract in a university in the Republic of Ireland during the COVID-19 global pandemic. At the time of writing and during the different phases of the pandemic that have come to pass so far, I have been employed as a coordinator and lecturer on a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) programme, while also teaching on and contributing to a number of other programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Like educators the world over, I was thrust into a space where teaching, overnight, migrated online. Like many others also, I experience this as someone with little job security, who has moved from one contract to another and who has no certainty as to what the future will bring in respect to ongoing employment. At the same time, I am keenly conscious that our students, from our first years who just started out to our fourth years on the cusp of graduation, are also reckoning with enhanced precarity and uncertainty. I aim to unpack the implications of this over the course of this essay by drawing on my recent lived experiences. In respect to method, I began documenting my experiences from the day the university closed through contemporaneous notetaking in a research journal. I also began to archive central university correspondence relating to the pandemic. I draw on these notes and materials here. While the purpose here is to offer a narrative that is not over-theorised, I do attempt to link my experiences to wider social, cultural, and political understandings so that what is presented can be described as autoethnography.
Precarity , Social work , COVID-19 , Corona Virus , Lived experiences , Ireland
Whelan, J. (2020) 'Tales of precarity: A reflexive essay on experiencing the COVID pandemic as a social work educator on a precarious contract', Qualitative Social Work. doi: 10.1177/1473325020973311
© 2020, the Author. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of the following article: Whelan, J. (2020) 'Tales of precarity: A reflexive essay on experiencing the COVID pandemic as a social work educator on a precarious contract', Qualitative Social Work. doi: 10.1177/1473325020973311. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325020973311