Conference Agenda

RN24_05a: Scientific careers and practices
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Heta Tarkkala, University of Helsinki
Location: UP.3.213
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road


“Science Is Still Important…” A Qualitative Study On (Age-Related) Retirement Of University Professors In Germany

Oliver Berli, Julia Reuter

University of Cologne, Germany

In recent years differentiating phases and types of careers has been at the center of sociological research on university careers. The majority of studies focuses on the so-called “young researchers”, which results in discussing primarily questions of access to and success in the field of science. In comparison, research on later career developments of university professors is relatively rare. Inspired by this observation the research project “The end of the academic career?”, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), investigates the (age-related) retirement of university professors in Germany.

Besides anecdotal evidence little is known about (age-related) retirement of university professors, which is curious, because retirement is an important aspect of the reproduction of the academic field. In particular, we are interested in the entanglements of practices and regulations related to retirement of university professors, the individual handling of and coming to terms with this status passage. Our paper deals with the research problem in three steps: Firstly, our paper provides insights into general aspects of the end of university careers in Germany. Secondly, we will present our methodical approach developed on the basis of a preliminary study conducted in 2017. In order to grasp the complex nature of our research problem, we combine the analysis of documents, expert interviews and problem-centered interviews. Finally, we will discuss preliminary findings and directions for further research.

Presenting and Valuating the Academic Self with the CV – Tracing historical contexts

Markus Tumeltshammer

University of Klagenfurt, Austria

Academic curricula vitae (CVs) are often carefully designed and maintained documents of auto/-biographical practices (Miller & Morgan 1993) by scientists and other researchers.

These practices are linked to expectations and self-perceptions that are specific to the fields (Bourdieu 2006) in which researchers are embedded. In my PhD-research, I address the question how researchers are being constructed as epistemic subjects (Knorr-Cetina 1999) in practices of presenting and valuating themselves and others based on academic CVs.

They play an important role in performing the “scientific self” (Daston & Galison 2007) and signalling “epistemic styles” (Lamont 2009). Whether and how a person is being recognized as a credible researcher depends on social processes of successfully ascribing such credibility. In this respect, CVs are part of diverse practices of valuation embedded in institutionalized processes of inclusion and exclusion. Reaching or keeping an academic position in contemporary audit culture normally involves CVs as “tools of assessment” (Ruth 2008). Researchers' CVs circulate in various formats, ranging from ‘classical’ CVs, included in grant and other applications, over personal entries on departmental websites, to academic social networks. In my talk I will focus on a part of my work that adds a historical perspective, tracing contexts (Asdal 2012) in which CVs emerged as part of academic institutions and everyday life. To do so, I will draw on findings from literature on CVs, and on the history of autobiography. I will also present examples from my own archival research on historical academic practices with CVs in Austria and Germany.

New Techno-Scientific Governance: Time Regimes and Scientific Trajectories

Ilenia Picardi, Maria Carmela Agodi

University of Naples Federico II, Italy

In the last years, the relation between productivity regimes and time regimes in academia have become a new object of analysis in science studies (Gibbs et al. 2015, Felt 2009, 2016, 2017, Ylijoki and Mäntyla 2003). This paper debates the impact of new forms of global and local governance of research and academia on situated scientific practices and academic careers. Recent perspectives from STS studies, where matters of concern and matters of care interact (Latour, 2017; Haraway, 2016; Martin, Myers, Viseu, 2015; Harding, 1991; Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017; Stengers, 2009), define the positioning for the analysis. Combining quantitative and qualitative research methods, we reconstruct the details of scientific trajectories of Italian academic researchers through different cohorts. Two Italian scientific institutions are examined as cases studies. The goal is to investigate the impact of new recruitment and career progression rules on scientific trajectories and researchers’ timescapes, after the 2010 reform of Italian academia. New forms of (intersectional) inequalities stemming from new forms of regulations are furtherly coming to the floor. While gender equity policies are working for the overcoming of the Glass Ceiling, a more detailed analysis of data reveals the closing of an overlooked and till now invisible Glass Door (Picardi, 2019) facing women researchers when approaching tenure track. The research reveals that the emphasis on competitive meritocracy proposed as a neutral universalistic framework has not removed ‘traditional’ co-optative mechanisms (predominantly based on informal networking practices). It is reinforcing the productive paradigm versus the generative one in technoscientific practice, making it hard for researchers to gain the reflexivity to pay attention to and respond to shifting topologies of power in our rapidly changing worlds.