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Rationalities of scholarly discourse. A cultural sociological analysis of authorship and publishing in the humanities

Knochelmann, Marcel; (2021) Rationalities of scholarly discourse. A cultural sociological analysis of authorship and publishing in the humanities. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Publish or perish is an ever-present topic in academia, but it is much better understood in the sciences than in the humanities. The humanities are historically geared towards a culture of thought articulated by historical-hermeneutical principles. Contemporary academia, however, is increasingly governed by formal rationality which induces a culture articulated by instrumentalization. Authorship and publishing practices are manifestations of these cultures. More and more, formal rationality prevails so that publishing practices become instrumental means for purposes external to scholarly discourse: individuals can advance their careers or institutions enhance their reputation and funding with formal publication records. This cultural shift from scholarly values to formal measurement helps explain why publishing practices are constituted the way they are today, and why many a scholar perceives immense pressure to publish ever more frequently, irrespective of scholarly discourse. I draw on cultural sociological theory as well as on two empirical studies for my analysis. I utilise practice theory to explain the relation of cultures and practices as well as Max Weber’s categorisation of rationalisation to ground my argument. I conducted a quantitative survey with more than 1,000 scholars in Germany and the UK as well as a series of 18 qualitative interviews with humanities scholars to determine characteristics of the empirical situation. There have been many recent claims of a crisis in scholarly communication: my analysis helps see this in a new perspective. It suggests a re-evaluation of the terms on which early career scholars compete, terms on which national policies and mechanisms such as the REF are built, and terms with which institutions and funders seek to legitimate the use of resources. Terms, as the analysis determines, that are increasingly tied to instrumental publishing instead of to thinking, teaching, or scholarship.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Rationalities of scholarly discourse. A cultural sociological analysis of authorship and publishing in the humanities
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Publish or Perish, Humanities, Scholarly Communication, Exzellenzinitiative, Research Excellence Framework, Geisteswissenschaften, Cultural Sociology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Information Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10131843
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