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Power, Emergence, and the Meanings of Resistance: Open access Scholarly Publishing in Canada

Oppression and Resistance

ISBN: 978-1-78743-168-3, eISBN: 978-1-78743-167-6

Publication date: 21 August 2017


Open access publishing is an increasingly popular trend in the dissemination of academic work, allowing journals to print articles electronically and without the burden of subscription paywalls, enabling much wider access for audiences. Yet subscription-based journals remain the most dominant in the social sciences and humanities, and it is often a struggle for newer open access publications to compete, in terms of economic, cultural, and symbolic capital (Bourdieu, 2004). Our study explores the meanings of resistance held by the editors of open access journals in the social sciences and humanities in Canada, as well as the views of university librarians. To make sense of these meanings, we draw on Lonnie Athens’ (2015) radical interactionist account of power, and expand on this by incorporating George Herbert Mead’s (1932, 1938) theory of emergence, arguing that open access is characteristic of an “extended rationality” (Chang, 2004) for those involved. Drawing on our open-ended interview data, we find that open access is experienced as a form of resistance in at least four ways. These include resistance to (1) profit motives in academic publishing; (2) access barriers for audiences; (3) access barriers for contributors; and (4) traditional publishing conventions.




We thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for supporting this research through an insight development grant. We also thank Irene Pugliese, Kyle Siler, and John Willinsky for their helpful comments on previous drafts, and Gil Musolf for his editorial guidance and support along the way.


Price, T. and Puddephatt, A. (2017), "Power, Emergence, and the Meanings of Resistance: Open access Scholarly Publishing in Canada", Oppression and Resistance (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 48), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 95-115.



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