Practitioner Precarity and the Coronavirus: Introduction

Welcome to the one-week Practitioner Precarity and the Coronavirus Event.

11th to 15th of May.


Precarity refers to two things: it refers to employment relations which are contingent, insecure, informal, and lacking in protection and career/pay progression. Precarity also refers to the psychological and subjective impact of precarious employment which may include; a negative impact on well-being, an increased sense of vulnerability, anxiety and isolation, and an inability to make plans or commit to longer-term projects. It can also induce a permanent fear of failure, of not being quite good enough, and can also reduce solidarity and collective action as precarity encourages entrepreneurial and competitive behaviour which pits precarious individuals against each other as well as prompting exclusionary acts by those less precarious wishing to protect their status. Precarity is not evenly distributed, some are (much) more precarious than others, and, for some, the consequences of precarity are dire.

There has been little to no public discussion of precarity and EAP practitioners. The purpose of this event is to redress this and to give a platform to precarious EAP practitioners, to listen to their experiences, their views, and their ideas. This simple idea has been made more difficult by the advent of the pandemic CoronaVirus. We (Bee and I) had wanted to organise a symposium exploring the structural, material, and economic forces that shape EAP and impact early-career and precarious practitioners (we will still do this, but later in the year, once the impact of changes wrought by the virus are beginning to become clearer) but the pandemic took over. We were reticent to host this event as we felt that, one, the pandemic would obscure discussions of the deeper structural forces at play in EAP and, two, an event like this would only add to confusion and uncertainty for the practitioners. We are keenly aware that the current situation is volatile, much has yet to be decided, and the future hard to predict. What we do hope though is that rather than being a distraction, the virus focuses attention on those practitioners who are most precarious.

Organisation of the week:

We decided to opt for a largely asynchronous week-long event to give everyone time to read, listen, and watch the many contributions to the week and time to comment and discuss in a less frenetic, more measured and reflective manner. Online synchronous events certainly have their place (and there have been many over the past few weeks) but we wanted to be inclusive of as many practitioners as possible across the globe with minimal technological and time constraints.

From Monday to Thursday a blog post will be published here daily on the themes below. You can comment (and please do!) but you’ll need to sign up to disqus (see bottom of this post for the link). This takes only a minute to do. It means that we can moderate comments if necessary. On Friday, we have a panel session (from 1-2 pm UK time) hosted on Zoom. Details of how to register will be posted shortly.

Monday 11th of May: Precarious practitioners’ perspectives from:

  • Zenna Marshall in discussion with Victoria Newton,
  • Mirena Nalbantova
  • Nadia Hards
  • Michèle le Roux
  • Tanya Fernbank

Tuesday 12th of May: UCU perspectives from:

  • Neil Allison (UCU rep & EAP practitioner)
  • Laurietta Essien (EAP practitioner)

Wednesday 13th of May: Centre Directors Perspectives from:

  • Yolanda Cerdá
  • Richard Silburn
  • Melinda Whong

Thursday 14th May: International Perspectives from:

  • Sarah von Delius (Germany)
  • Jennifer MacDonald (Canada)
  • Jessica Garska (Republic of Ireland)
  • Conor O’Reilly (Republic of Ireland)
  • Marc Jones (Japan)
  • Tamara Budlova (Russia)
  • Andrew Chung and Tess Hogue (HK)

1-2 pm Friday 15th of May: panel discussion

Invited panel members (so far, more may be added):

  • Sarah Brewer
  • Mirena Nalbantova
  • Nadia Hards
  • Michèle le Roux
  • Yolanda Cerdá

Everyone is very welcome to attend – see below for details and link to register:

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.

When: May 15, 2020 01:00 PM London

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has agreed to participate and has given so generously despite the pandemic and despite having many other things to do.

Best wishes

Alex and Bee