22 SES 12 A, Reflecting on the Individual And Collective Benefits of Higher Education Internationalization: Reconceptualising internationalization through the experiences of staff and students Part 2
Symposium continued from 22 SES 11 A
This paper approaches internationalization from the perspective of transnational mobile academics, relying on Pierre Bourdieu’s (1986) field theory and Glynis Breakwell’s (1986; 2014) theory of threatened identities. Previous studies have shown that international experience is geographically contingent capital, meaning that mobility towards universities by reputation in English-speaking countries has value (e.g. Bauder, Hannan & Lujan 2017; Kim 2017). However, transnational mobile academics move between very different universities and countries, with personal life histories and different goals for their future career. Working at any university abroad has a connection to their academic identities (e.g. Richardson & McKenna 2003; Richardson. & Zikic 2007). In this study, we focus on transnational mobile academics working in a linguistic and geographic academic periphery, in Finland. In university rankings, Finnish universities are usually among the 500 best universities in the world, meaning that they are neither the best nor the weakest. The purpose of the study is to describe and understand, what kind of meaning a transnational mobility has on building academic identity in the context of Finnish academic field. The research data was collected by interviews for international academic staff working in one medium-size university. The interviews had three themes concerning the past, the present and the future of academic career. All the ten interviewees were of different ethnic backgrounds. The data was analyzed using data and theory driven content analysis (c.f. Krippendorf 2004). According to the results, a transnational mobile career was described by the interviewees both success and loss, containing simultaneously a hope of winning and a fear of losing. International experience and mobility were considered as a way of collecting the kind of cultural, social, economic and symbolic capitals that the global academic world considers valuable. It was believed to have a clear connection to better career development and in that way helping to survive and succeed in the academic field. A transnational mobile career was seen complicated and causing threats to one’s academic identity. In the data, the threats facing academic identity appeared in three different forms: uncertainty associated with work, cultural and social adjustments, with connection to language issues, and obstacles in cultural specific academic practices that appeared while working. These threats were seen as the reverse side of the valuable capitals and causing obstacles for collecting them. The results imply that threats have a significant influence on the formation of academic identity.
Bauder, H., Hannan, C.-A. & Lujan, O. (2016). International experience in the academic field: Knowledge production, symbolic capital, and mobility fetishism. Population, Space and Place. DOI:10.1002/psp.2040 Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In Richardson J. (ed.) Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. New York: Greenwood, 241–258. Breakwell, G. (1986). Coping with threatened identities. London: Metheun. Breakwell, G. (2014). Identity process theory: Clarifications and elaborations. In R. Jaspal & G. Breakwell (eds.) Identity process theory – Identity, social action and social change. Cambridge: University Press, 20–38. Kim, T. (2017). Academic mobility, transnational identity capital, and stratification under conditions of academic capitalism. Higher Education 73(6), 981–997. Krippendorff, K. (2004). Content Analysis: An introduction to its methodology. 2. ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Richardson, J. & McKenna, S. (2003). International experience and academic careers. Personnel Review 32(6), 774–795. Richardson, J. & Zikic, J. (2007). The darker side of an international academic career. Career Development International 12(2), 164–186.
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