9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN19 Sociology of Professions

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 The Reordering of Occupations and Careers in Globalized Contexts Building I, Auditório 1

Science Careers - International Mobility importance

Scientific careers are arguably the most frequently discussed professional topic in the European context. The association between knowledge creation and wealth production is widely established and talk of a knowledge economy or a knowledge society is now commonplace among economists, sociologists and other social scientists. These developments helped bring into being a new professional category, namely the "knowledge worker". If not yet officially institutionalized as a distinct professional classification, the preeminence of this new kind of worker is at least informally recognized. In this framework, the following of the Lisbon Agenda and the implementation of the European Research Area put the professionals responsible for knowledge creation, diffusion and management at the forefront of policy concerns.
Nevertheless, there remains ample space to refine and differentiate the definition of knowledge worker. In this sense, this paper focuses on academic researchers, a usually neglected sub-category of knowledge workers since they are frequently not involved with R&D in the industrial sector. The paper discusses several characteristics of academic researchers´ careers, devoting particular attention to one of its most prominent features: the increasingly demanding requirement of international mobility. Be it for the attainment of formal degrees, the collaboration in teaching and researching or, simply, the attendance of scientific conferences, international mobility presently typifies what academics are expected to do. At the same time, it poses severe constraints on their personal lives and on the lives of those around them. Drawing on research performed under the project "Mobiscience - Scientists´ Mobility in Portugal: trajectories and knowledge circulation", the paper presents data colleced by the way of intervews and a survey on experiences, motivations and expectations pertaining to academic careers with an explicit international dimension. In so doing, it advances typical mobility profiles for Portuguese academic researchers in three distinct areas (electrical engineering, health sciences and sociology) and highlights the most significant consequences for "scientific careers" trajectories.