Meschitti, Viviana (2019) Learning the academic profession: positioning the self across relational fields and contexts of action. In: 35th EGOS Colloquium, July 4-6 2019, Edinburgh. (Unpublished)

This paper is focused on understanding how identity work unfolds along the learning trajectory of PhD students. The objective is to find out which processes plays a role in the construction of the “researcher” identity. The paper assumes that academia nowadays is characterised by neoliberal discourses, which impact on PhD students’ identity work. Two main views emerge from literature on PhD students’ experiences: PhD students as needing peculiar forms of support since they are newcomers to the academic profession and shall get socialised to it; or, PhD students as active agents, who purposefully shape their own path and draw on different resources in order to thrive. This paper adheres to the second view to relate it to the debate about the neoliberal turn in academia and, more broadly, to the debate about professional careers in a changing landscape. Data collected in a longitudinal study on the experiences of a small cohort of PhD students in a UK university support the arguments. The findings allow drafting a novel conceptual framework which links identity work, positioning and learning, and proposes knowledgeability as a potential way to shape professions against the neoliberal discourse. Thus, this paper is relevant to the EGOS Sub-theme Enlightenment, Freedom and Work in the 21st Century; in particular, it helps to understand how neoliberal values are internalised and how workers can escape the neoliberal mindset.

__NAS01_sbushome_sbusvm4_Documents_Conferences & Book Chapters_EGOS 2019_submitted_EGOS 2019_Viviana Meschitti_Learning the academic profession.pdf - Accepted Version
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