In this article we examine the changing nature of the higher education workforce with specific reference to the increasing influence and importance of third space workers (e.g., blended learning designers, e-learning developers, partnerships managers, associate tutors, learning technology specialists and communication and engagement officers). Discussing the contextual framework, we contend that the higher education context is uncertain and has taken on a disrupted character, generating a social condition that we term dislocated complexity. Through the lens of Giddens' Theory of Structuration, we analyse empirical data from two studies—one in Scotland and one in Australia—to shed light on how the workforce in higher education is changing. We illuminate the need for greater recognition of third-space workers as part of a team alongside academic discipline experts in these times of dislocated complexity. We propose the term dislocated complexity as a means to describe the heightened state of complexity that exists in higher education systems in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and highlight the need for structural and policy changes.


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Livingston, K. & Ling, L. 2022, 'Third space workers in higher education in times of dislocated complexity', European Journal of Education. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12523

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Last updated: 08 September 2022
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