Cripping The Exhaustion Economy

Radically Reimagining the Neoliberal Academy from the Sick Bed

A person lying in bed with hands on open laptop, bookcase in background

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Complete the survey

The survey for this project is now open and can be accessed here:

We are looking for survey respondents who are people with ELC who currently work, or have previously worked, in an academic role in UK academia.

For the purpose of the research, we are defining an academic role as a role in which substantial contractual responsibilities involve teaching and/or research in Higher Education, including delivery of HE programmes in Further Education institutions. This includes PhD students who have teaching or research contracts alongside their PhD, but not those who are solely doing a PhD because the processes for reasonable adjustments are different for employees and students.

The survey is open to people who experience symptoms of energy impairment regardless of whether you have a formal diagnosis of an ELC, because it can take years to get a formal diagnosis. See our Home page for more information on what ELCs are.


The research is using the following qualitative methodologies to collect information on the experiences of academics (both those who still work in academic roles and those who have left academia) with energy limiting conditions / chronic illnesses:

  1. A qualitative survey, open to any academics with Energy Limiting Chronic Illness / Conditions (including self-diagnosed) who both still work in academia and who have left academia.
  2. Focus group using participatory network mapping to map the political economy of UK academia. “Network narratives” from the surveys and focus group will record participants’ accounts of institutions/practices that drain energy. 
  3. Interviews (with people in academia and who have left). With a choice of stand-alone interview, interviews based on autobiographical accounts of the impact of ELCI over their career, or energy-budget diary-based interviews. People will be able to choose the format of these that fit best with their energy level, including zoom, phone, email interviews.
  4. Autobiographical account and energy-budget diary (kept by Bethan).
  5. Critical analysis of disability policy from key institutions.
  6. Participatory analysis focus group reflecting on data themes and revisiting the network maps using an imaginary ‘energy budget’ to identify possibilities to reimagine academic practices in ways that save energy. 
An image illustrating the experience of fluctuation in ELC. The image shows a screenshot of a Space Invaders-style video game with three figures navigating an uneven pathway while trying to dodge lasers being shot from different angles. The caption says "I can never guarantee that I am going to be OK at a particular time on a particular day."
Image by Nifty Fox Creative for Chronic Illness Inclusion
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