Researching the future

Researching the Future:
and Difference: Theories and Methodologies
and Democratisation
Culture Wars
in the Knowledge Economy
Professor Louise Morley
Centre for Higher Education
and Equity Research (CHEER)
University of Sussex, UK
Provocations: Neo-liberal/ Austerity
Research Economies?
Who is defining the field of social research?
Who are the standard makers?
What are the dispersed control practices?
Where are the epistemic exclusions?
Is globalisation of scientised knowledge
accelerating a rationalisation of the social
• Dangers of normative reproduction/
intellectual closures in a global economy?
• Return of the paradigm wars/ Certainties of
• Is the ‘gold-standard’ of research methods
now the randomised controlled trial (Colley,
Economics Imperialism
• Research colonised by the ‘cultural
circuits’ of capitalism (Mills and Ratcliffe,
• Instrumentalisation of knowledge/
Quantifiable use value.
• Research funded for government
priorities e.g. security?
• Non-economics scholarship becoming
unfundable or unknowable?
• Counter-hegemonic/ critical
scholarship in danger of becoming
‘socially illegitimate’ (Butler, 2006).
Value, Not Values
Research productivity =
• Income-generation
• Indictor for performance management/
calculative practice
• Exchange in the global prestige economy
• Innovation for the market
• Activity reduced to a common managerial
• Impact
Where is?
• Creativity
• Discovery
• Pleasure
• Intellectual contribution
• Social justice
(Collini, 2013; Leathwood & Read, 2013; Lucas, 2006)
Peer Reviewers: Assemblage of
• Democratising intervention disguising steering
at a distance.
• Measuring apparatus constituted through
norms, practices and epistemologies.
• Digital technology circulates disembodied and
de-territorialised feedback.
• Scarce resources capriciously allocated by
non-accountable and non-transparent
• Externality problematic in resourceconstrained economies?
• Reluctance to sign over competitive
advantage to other researchers?
• Determine what remains outside of the
domain of intelligibility.
• Captured by hegemony?
What Does Research do to Academic
• Pride
• Material rewards/
• Leadership
• Credentialisation
• Accumulation of (portable)
academic capital
• Research success = the
good life.
Affective Ecologies: Shame
• Mobilised, via a calculus of success or
management by numbers (Cooke, 2013).
• Relationship with indebtedness.
(Probyn, 2005; Mantyla, 2000)
• Individualising- the failure to win
grants or publish.
• Collective – the lack of cumulative
progress in the social sciences to
eliminate social problems (Carrigan, 2013).
• Institutions falling down the global
league tables (Adams, 2013).
• Culture of governance by fear (Braidotti,
Can Foucault be invoked to help deconstruct
the corrosive micropolitical experiences and
govermentalities that are symptomatic of
broader cultural clashes and the closure of
counter-hegemonic discursive space in the
global research economy?
Optimism takes the phenomenological form
of a ‘knotty tethering to objects, scenes, and
modes of life that generate so much
overwhelming yet sustaining negation’
(Berlant, 2011, 52).
‘The faith that adjustment to certain forms or
practices of living and thinking will secure
one’s happiness’ (Berlant, 2002:75).
Academic Desire = Stupid Optimism?
• Researchers positioned as supplicants
for diminishing/ highly targeted public
• Participation in self-frustrating and
punitive research funding regimes.
• Logic of relationality = for every winner
there are many losers.
• Empty signifier of excellence invoked value indicators unstable, transitory,
contingent and contextualised.
• Illusio = investing in the game involves
performativities (Bourdieu, 1977; Colley, 2013)
• Game seldom leads to acquisition or
Epistemic Exclusions: Precarious Academics
• Who is deemed capable of reason/ cast
as un/reliable knowers?
• 71% of researchers globally are men
• 29% women (UNESCO, 2012).
Women less likely to be:
 Journal editors/cited in top-rated
journals (Tight, 2008).
 Principal investigators (EC, 2011, 2013).
 On research boards
 Awarded large grants
 UK- Across all age and grant categories,
women averaged a 25% success rate,
compared with men's 29% (RCUK, 2014).
 Awarded research prizes (Nikiforova, 2011).
 Keynote conference speakers (Schroeder et
al., 2013).
• Rigorous Literature Review – British
Council and Leadership Foundation for
Higher Education (Morley, 2013)
• Transcribed Panel/ Group Discussions in
British Council Seminars (Hong Kong, Tokyo
and Dubai).
• 20 questionnaires: Australia, China, Egypt,
Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan,
Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan,
Palestine, the Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand and Turkey.
• Sample= current/ previous vicechancellors, deputy vice-chancellors,
deans, research directors and mid and
early career academic women located in
social sciences, humanities and STEM.
(Morley, 2014)
Circular relationship between the
exclusion of groups from
prestigious relay points in the
knowledge economy and the
reproduction of the norms that
define the field.
Distributive and Epistemic Injustice
• Opaqueness in decisionmaking/lack of transparency/
accountability of funders.
• Gender bias in assessment of
excellence/peer review.
• Gendered division of labour/
horizontal segregation.
• Institutional practices e.g. shortterm contracts/ inward-facing
• Privileging of male-dominated
disciplines e.g. STEM.
Manifesto for Change: Accountability, Transparency,
Development and Data
Equality as Quality - equality should be made a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) in quality audits, with
data to be returned on percentage and location of women professors and leaders, percentage and
location of undergraduate and postgraduate students and gender pay equality. Gender equity
achievements should be included in international recognition and reputation for universities in league
Research Grants - funders should monitor the percentage of applications and awards made to women
and to actively promote more women as principal investigators. The applications procedures should be
reviewed to incorporate a more inclusive and diverse philosophy of achievement. Gender implications
and impact should also be included in assessment criteria.
Journals - Editorial Boards, and the appointment of editors, need more transparent selection processes,
and policies on gender equality e.g. to keep the gender balance in contributions under review.
Data - a global database on women and leadership in higher education should be established.
Development - more investment needs to be made in mentorship and leadership development
programmes for women and gender needs to be included in existing leadership development
Mainstreaming - work cultures should be reviewed to ensure that diversity is mainstreamed into all
organisational practices and procedures.
Impact of Neo-liberal/ Austerity
Exclusionary Research Cultures
• Research makes the world
intelligible in specific ways and
contributes to the foreclosure of
other patterns of intelligibility (Rouse,
• Beneficence of state patronage only
for those sharing the values of the
new times?
• How to defend the autonomy of the
field of the production of research
against heteronomy and control
practices that masquerade as
Making Alternativity Imaginable:
How Can Social Science Researchers…
• Trouble neo-liberal realism.
• Resist being co-opted by narrow
research policy agendas.
• Inform policy with evidence, not vice
• Challenge and expose increasing socioeconomic inequalities/ exclusions.
• Re-invigorate knowledge production as
a site of transformation/ possibility.
• Act as Socratic ‘gadflies’ (Colley, 2013).
• Transgress and re-signify.
• Re-work tired, stale categories/
• Identify new optics for viewing social
• Imagine and research the future that
you want to see.