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The changing character of the academic game

At a recent event, I heard an extremely distinguished professor make the argument that there was a certain sequence to career development which all academics who sought jobs in high status university ought to pursue. One ought to publish papers in well regarded journals before writing books. One ought to […]

On intellectual craft 

I’m currently reading On Intellectual Craftsmanship, in preparation for a talk I’m doing in Berlin next week. This famous appendix to The Sociological Imagination is something I’ve long been inspired by, finding in it a way of organising my own life that belies the text’s apparently humble ambition to merely […]

The social struggle between collegiality and bureaucracy

The network scientist Emmanuel Lazega studies collegiality and bureaucracy as ideal typical forms of social organisation which co-exist in a fluctuating balance within organisations. Collegiality involves actors recognising each other as autonomous, existing in relationship to each other and necessitating consensus as a preliminary for what will always be non-routine […]

Trump and the ascent of the spiralists

In a recent article, Michael Burawoy warned about what he termed the spiralists. These are “people who spiral in from outside, develop signature projects and then hope to spiral upward and onward, leaving the university behind to spiral down”. While he was concerned with university leaders, I observed at the time […]

CfP: Accelerated Academy

Accelerated Academy #4 Academic Timescapes: Perspectives, Reflections, ResponsibilitiesMay 24-25, Villa Lanna, Prague, Czech Academy of Sciences After meetings in Prague, Warwick and Leiden, the fourth Accelerated Academy conference calls for a more nuanced perspective in order to advance our understanding of academic temporalities as experienced, understood, controlled, managed, imagined and […]

Against university marketing

There’s a gently scathing inditement of university marketing in today’s WonkHE newsletter. I’ve been interested in university marketing for years, without ever having written properly on the topic. I find it fascinating to see how universities choose to position themselves to (imagined) publics, as well as what this positioning says about […]

The digital academic as autobiographical actor

There’s a wonderful discussion by Ann Oakley on loc 562-567 of her Father and Daughter, taking the production of the academic c.v. seriously as an autobiographical act: A c.v. is an autobiographical act, a life composed and presented according to certain conventions, a story designed to hide, exaggerate, downplay or […]

The (slow) private life of homo academicus

In his Pascalian Meditations, Bourdieu is concerned with “the free time, freed from the urgencies of the world, that allows a free and liberated relation to those urgencies and to the world”. There are presuppositions to enjoying this condition which shape the dispositions of the scholar, necessitating reflexivity for epistemic […]

The fox’s way of being-in-the-world

A line amongst fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus says ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing‘. This was the inspiration for Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay on the hedgehog and the fox. Berlin takes these words figuratively to illustrate a divide between two styles of […]