Pain, No Gain? A Joint-Autoethnography of Our Working Lives as Academics with Chronic Illnesses




chronic illness, higher education, performance


This paper adopts a joint-autoethnographic approach to explore our lived experiences of working in academia whilst living with chronic illness, specifically Ankylosing Spondylitis, at two ‘new’ public universities in the North of England, UK. Use of the novel methodological approach of joint-autoethnography enables us to provide a snapshot into what it means to be ‘othered’ in contemporary neoliberal academia. We contribute to existing debates which seek to disrupt perceptions of academia as an elitist, ablest and privileged ivory tower. Through data captured in personal research diaries, we shed light on the emotional and embodied experiences of living with chronic illness whilst navigating academia, and how we perform our (un)spoiled academic identities. This is important because women with chronic illnesses and disabilities are significantly under-represented in senior roles within universities. This paper will interest an international readership because chronic illnesses are widespread in the workforce and these individuals offer a unique perspective within higher education, and have an awareness of the barriers faced by other academics and students with chronic illnesses.


Received: 1 September 2023 | Revised: 30 October 2023 | Accepted: 30 October 2023


Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest to this work.


Data Availability Statement

The data that supports the finding of this study are not publicly available due to privacy concerns of the participants. However, anonymized data are available from the author on reasonable request. Requests should be made to and should include a brief description of the intended use of the data.




How to Cite

Wilkinson, S., & Wilkinson, C. . (2023). Pain, No Gain? A Joint-Autoethnography of Our Working Lives as Academics with Chronic Illnesses. International Journal of Changes in Education, 1(1), 4–10.



Research Articles