Reshaping tertiary education in the tiny publics of academia : An interpretive approach to knowledge genres and social inequalities in higher education
This conceptual paper is concerned with developing a interpretive research agenda for the study of a higher education institution that is situated in a context marked by distinct social inequalities, many of which are linked to a history of racial segregation. The institution of interest operates in a ‘western’ tradition of academia and scientific research, but draws many students from non-academic families, with educational biographies in disadvantaged institutions, and/or with an ethnocultural background in which ‘western’ academia is not rooted. These students struggle with what could be called a partial ‘misfit’ in the academic field. Current debates about the education system in which the respective institution is situated not only discuss how to ‘overcome’ such misfits from the individual student’s perspective, but also focus on the need to reshape the culture of educational institutions in order to correspond to the ethno-racial background of the students. Hence, the everyday reality of tertiary education constitutes a tiny public in which discourses compete for different definitions of what the nature of the academic culture and the therewith connected ‘problems’ are and how they are to be ‘remedied’. Amongst a range of diverse perspectives, this entails on the one hand a focus on the ‘transparent whiteness’ of the instructional approach, instructions which on the other hand largely concern natural science subjects often underpinned by an (implicit) claim of culture-independent validity of the discipline’s established knowledge. The paper will present a first attempt to develop a conceptual interpretive framework capable of analyzing these everyday discourses involved in framing (mis)fits in academia and in reshaping educational practices and institution.
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HSG Profile Area
SHSS - Kulturen, Institutionen, Maerkte (KIM)
Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association : Interpretive Perspectives on Collective Dynamics, Social (De-)Regulation and Public Spheres