28 SES 09, Production, Transfer and Legitimacy of Knowledge at European Level: Academic Regimes
Parallel Paper Session and
Interactive Poster Session
The professional life of academics is increasingly rooted in digital technologies nowadays, whether those be related to research, teaching or service provision (Peters, 2006; Robins & Webster, 2002). Publishing and reading of research findings is effectuated more and more by means of online journals instead of books and paper journals; teaching is not only being done in auditoria, but also in electronic learning environments such as Blackboard; communication with different societal sectors largely takes place by means of e-mail or Skype; and so on. However, little explicit attention is given to how these digital technologies affect the concrete daily lives of academics. This phenomenon of taken-for-grantedness has elsewhere been termed as „black boxing‟ (Latour, 1987): a process by which the „making‟ of certain interactions, relations and forms of self-understanding is gradually ignored in favor of considering them factual matters as such. This black boxing, for instance, finds its articulation in the belief that digital technologies are merely neutral tools being used by academics to organize their practice in a more efficient and effective way without affecting academic practice, or what it is to be an academic, itself. However, one could argue that the replacement of „textual devices‟ (written texts) with „digital devices‟ (digital screens) marks a profound shift – not only in the fundamental functioning of universities as institutions, but in the self-understanding of its academics as well (e.g. Illich, 1991). In order to engage in a discussion with such and other rather epochal, principled statements about the current (changing) condition of the university, the main research interest of this study is to open up this black box of academic practice by focusing in detail on the social and the material (e.g. digital and non-digital technologies) elements that shape current academic assemblages. The theoretical framework, in other words, adopts a socio-material perspective that is closely in line with actor-network theory (ANT) and science and technology studies (STS) (e.g. Latour, 2005). While classic technological approaches address the operation or use of technologies in academia (‘the technological infrastructure of academic practice’) and classic social approaches the social and human effects of technology (‘the social effects of the technologization of academic practice’), the value of a socio-material approach is that it disentangles the interrelation of instruments/tools and specific actions in the constitution of academic practice at the moment of their making (Sørensen, 2009). The purpose of this study, then, is to map how an academic regime of enunciation (Latour, 2010) looks like.
Based on the above, the present study searches to answer how an academic regime of enunciation is assembled (explicitly taking into account the embodied, material features of academic practices and unraveling those practices at the moment of their ‘making’) by means of the following research questions: 1 How does ‘academic practice in the making’ take shape?; 2. How can the empirical pictures of ‘academic practice in the making’ inform often epochal statements about the current condition of the university?
Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic. Illich, I. (1991). Text and university. Retrieved from http://www.davidtinapple.com/illich/1991_text_and_university.PDF Latour, B. (1987). Science in action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Latour, B. (2010). The making of law. Cambridge: Polity Press. Law, J. (2008). On sociology and STS. The Sociological Review, 56(4), 623-649. Peters, M. (2006). Towards philosophy of technology of education: Mapping the field. In J. Weiss et al. (Eds.), The international handbook of virtual learning environments (pp. 95-116). Dordrecht: Springer. Robins, K., & Webster, F. (Eds.) (2002). The virtual university? Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sørensen, E. (2009). The materiality of learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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