This paper seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the impact on doctoral education attributable to performativity pressures in academia, by exploring the practices associated with the production of academic knowledge within the doctoral process.
An (auto)ethnographic inquiry was conducted over a period of ten months within the business school of a major Canadian university in order to examine socialisation practices and discourses from a given PhD program. Empirical observations from direct participation, local documents, and two interviews were analysed using a theoretical framework derived from Bourdieu's structural social constructivism and from Foucault's concepts of disciplinary techniques and technologies of the self.
The study shows how the doctoral program can be likened to a rite of passage, altering and shaping the cognitive structures and interpretive schemes of lay students – their subjective “selves”, their habitus. By means of a set of meticulous discourses and practices, the doctoral program changes novice researchers into disciplined and self‐disciplined academic performers, over time, to comply with the performativity rules of academia, while reflexivity can only be achieved through criticism and self‐criticism.
This paper focuses upon doctoral training vis‐à‐vis improve(ment) of economic and academic performance in a “knowledge society”. It mobilises and develops the notions of rite of passage, performativity, habitus, disciplinary techniques and technologies of the self to examine the conditions within which doctoral students somatise the ways and customs through their engagement in academia.
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