The effects of managerialism in higher education on doctoral theorising: time to think?



Pratt N & Shaughnessy J (2021) The effects of managerialism in higher education on doctoral theorising: time to think?. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 42 (8), pp. 1123-1138.

Over the last 30 years higher education has seen a rise in new managerialism across all its activity, driven by neoliberal economic policy. Professional doctorates (PDs) have been part of this rise, increasing in number considerably and spawning a related interest in researching doctoral work. However, there have been few studies focused on how students develop an understanding of theory/theorisation and how supervision supports it. This paper reports on a research project involving interviews with supervisors from professional doctorate in education programmes in the UK, as a particular example of PDs in general, to explore the process of theorisation. Drawing on Bernstein, it shows how supervision, and wider programme design, are mediated by the increasingly managerial context of doctoral study. The study raises questions about the ways in which students and supervisors engage with both methodology and theory/theorisation in working together and subsequent implications for the quality of doctoral work.

Doctorate; theory; theorisation; supervision; new managerialism; Bernstein

British Journal of Sociology of Education: Volume 42, Issue 8

FundersSociety for Research into Higher Education
Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online11/09/2021
Date accepted by journal18/08/2021

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Dr Julie Shaughnessy

Dr Julie Shaughnessy

Lecturer (Primary Education), Education