Passion, care, and eros in the gendered neoliberal university

Rebecca Lund, Janne Tienari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we respond to Emma Bell and Amanda Sinclair’s call for reclaiming eros as non-commodified energy that drives academic work. Taking our point of entry from institutional ethnography and the standpoint of junior female academics, we highlight the ambiguity experienced in the neoliberal university in relation to its constructions of potential. We elucidate how potential becomes gendered in and through discourses of passion and care: how epistemic and material detachment from the local is framed as potential and how masculinized passion directs academics to do what counts, while feminized and locally bound care is institutionally appreciated only as far as it supports individualized passion. The way passion and care shape the practices of academic writing and organize the ruling relations of potentiality are challenged through eros, an uncontrollable and un-cooptable energy and longing, which becomes a threat to the gendered neoliberal university and a source of resistance to it. By distinguishing between passion, care, and eros, our institutional ethnography inquiry helps to make sense of the conformity and resistance that characterize the ambiguous experience of today’s academics.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalOrganization
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)98-121
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 20.10.2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • care
  • eros
  • gender
  • institutional ethnography
  • passion
  • potential
  • resistance
  • university


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