Crafting the Academy: Writing Sociology and Disciplinary Legitimacy

Burton, Sarah Victoria Alexandra. 2017. Crafting the Academy: Writing Sociology and Disciplinary Legitimacy. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is an ethnographic study of the craft of writing in U.K. sociology. Centred around key concepts of consecration and value, the thesis uses Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice to examine the relationship between the craft of writing and becoming or feeling legitimate within sociology. The thesis sits within a context of debates in sociology which have examined the idea of disciplinarity: what is sociology’s history, practice, and purpose? However, whilst sociologists have paid significant attention to the construction of the discipline and even how ‘the discipline’ writes, no one has yet examined this from the perspective of individual sociologists and the everyday of their writing practices and processes. This thesis addresses the gap in the research. The work here is based on a year-long ethnography of ten academics working in U.K. sociology departments. The thesis contributes significantly to understanding the relationship between macro-level structures of power and domination (institutional power and structural social inequality), and how this is felt and engaged with on a micro/everyday level, through writing. It adds an original perspective to considering how legitimacy is produced in sociological knowledge, and understood to reside in/with sociologists themselves. Crucially, the ethnography adeptly demonstrates that underpinning these consecrated intellectual and institutional positions are structures of ‘race’, class, and gender inequality. As such, the thesis shows how legitimate(d) ideological disciplinary positions interpolate with institutional racism, sexism, and classism in elite and exclusionary fashions. Thus, this study of the craft of writing in sociology gives original access to means by which the reproduction of power and privilege is done on a micro, everyday level. Moreover, the research here gives cause for hope: participants’ accounts show where hegemonic power may be challenged and interrupted. They mark where change may begin.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Sociology, writing, hegemony, power, legitimacy, value, craft, critique

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31 July 2017

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Date Deposited:

25 Aug 2017 10:55

Last Modified:

31 Jul 2020 01:26


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