The Slow University: Work, Time and Well-Being


  • Maggie O'Neill Durham University



slow university, audit culture, structures of feeling, anxiety, psycho-social research, biographical methods, participatory methods, fast academia, critical theory


Applying the concept of slow to the university, in the context of increasing marketisation, managerialism and performance management, enables us to focus upon our experiences of work, time and well-being, the increasing pace and tempo of academic life and the very meaning of the university in current times. In this article, the possibilities for being slowly radical are examined through a critical theoretical and psycho-social lens. Drawing upon Isabel MENZIES LYTH (1988 [1959]) I argue that the success and indeed well-being of the modern university is intimately connected to techniques used to contain anxiety. Confronting anxiety materially, discursively and symbolically involves addressing issues of governance and well-being through providing opportunities for more dialogue and spaciousness. The final section of this article makes recommendations for taking forward sociological research in this area utilising critical, participatory, biographical and performative methodologies.



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Author Biography

Maggie O'Neill, Durham University

Maggie O'NEILL is a sociologist and professor in criminology in the School of Applied Social Sciences at Durham University. She co-directs the Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities at Durham University. Her most recent book is "Transgressive Imaginations: Crime, Deviance and Culture".




How to Cite

O’Neill, M. (2014). The Slow University: Work, Time and Well-Being. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 15(3).



The Slow University