(Un)professionalisation or (Re)professionalisation of the Academic in the Brave New World?


  • Maria José Sá CIPES-Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies, 4450-227 Matosinhos, Portugal
  • Carlos Miguel Ferreira Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies; Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco; Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences – CICS.NOVA, Portugal
  • Sandro Serpa University of the Azores http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4286-4440




Academic profession, academic, de-professionalisation, (re)professionalisation of the academic profession, digital scholarship, academic autonomy.


Currently, the digital dimension permeates the daily activity of many professions, with all that this entails, in terms of advantages, disadvantages and challenges. The academic world is not immune to these new technological, political and social conditions and new instigations and situations emerge, which need to be studied. This article seeks to answer the following research question: Is the academic profession undergoing a process of increasing proletarianisation, which is influenced by the new universities‘ mission (in a broad way), in the sense of unprofessionalisation, or are there new conditions for academics‘ re-professionalisation experienced as a challenge? A meta-analysis of publications that focus directly on this topic was conducted through a conceptual analysis of the most recent literature addressing this topic. It is concluded that, in general, and notwithstanding institutional, local, regional, national and international specificities, there is some degree of academic‘s unprofessionalisation resulting from an increase in the functions ascribed to him/her by the political dimension that, in a context of increasing instability and control of his/her activity through the quantity and intensity of the functions to be conducted, may call into question academic autonomy, a basic foundation of the University. However, and concurrently, there is a new context which could, under certain conditions, foster the enormous challenge of re-professionalisation. As an implication of this work, there is a need to rethink this situation, which, if continued and deepened, will threaten the academic profession in some of its central dimensions, which may jeopardise the future sustainable development of our societies.

Author Biography

Maria José Sá, CIPES-Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies, 4450-227 Matosinhos, Portugal

CIPES-Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies, 4450-227 Matosinhos, Portugal


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How to Cite

José Sá, M., Ferreira, C. M., & Serpa, S. (2019). (Un)professionalisation or (Re)professionalisation of the Academic in the Brave New World?. Postmodern Openings, 10(2), 84-113. https://doi.org/10.18662/po/73



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