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This article contributes new theoretical perspectives and empirical findings to the conceptualization of occupational liminality. Here, we posit ‘occupational limbo’ as a state distinct from both transitional and permanent liminality; an important analytic distinction in better understanding occupational experiences. We propose a conceptualization of occupational limbo as always-this-and-never-that, where this is less desirable than that. Based on interviews with 51 teaching-only staff at 20 research-intensive ‘Russell Group’ universities in the United Kingdom, the findings highlight some challenging occupational experiences for teaching-only staff. Interviewees reported feeling ‘locked-in’ to an uncomfortable state by a set of structural and social barriers often perceived as insurmountable. This work has wider application to other occupational spheres, and can thus enhance the understanding not just of teaching-only staff and academics, but also of other workers and managers.

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This page is a summary of: Occupational limbo, transitional liminality and permanent liminality: New conceptual distinctions, Human Relations, June 2017, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0018726717706535.
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