Accountability, transparency, redundancy: academic identities in an era of 'excellence'



Watson C (2011) Accountability, transparency, redundancy: academic identities in an era of 'excellence'. British Educational Research Journal, 37 (6), pp. 955-971.

Higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK and elsewhere are having a hard time, pushed into the marketplace with the turn to ‘academic capitalism’ and now suffering the effects of the economic downturn. Increasingly, the discourse of ‘excellence’ is being invoked as HEIs are held to account and public funding for research is predicated on the basis of ‘impact’. What effect is this having on the long-established ideals appealed to in the idea of a university (if such an idea can be said to exist)? This paper adopts an autoethnographic approach in order to examine the ways in which dominant discourses are operationalised in the university through everyday communications and how, in turn, this impacts on the development of academic identities. The aim of this paper then is to examine the often uncomfortable point of insertion between the personal and the institutional in and through which subjectivities and identities are constituted as a means to understand the state we’re in.

university; autoethnography; higher education; academic capitalism; Education, Higher Economic aspects; Ethnography Biographical methods

British Educational Research Journal: Volume 37, Issue 6

Publication date31/12/2011
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)

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Professor Cate Watson

Professor Cate Watson

Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences