Outcasts on the inside : academics reinventing themselves online

Costa, Cristina (2015) Outcasts on the inside : academics reinventing themselves online. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 34 (2). pp. 194-210. ISSN 0260-1370

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    Abstract

    Recent developments in digital scholarship point out that academic practices supported by technologies may not only be transformed through the obvious process of digitization, but also renovated through distributed knowledge networks that digital technologies enable, and the practices of openness that such networks develop. Yet, this apparent freedom for individuals to re-invent the logic of academic practice comes at a price, as it tends to clash with the conventions of a rather conservative academic world. In other words, it may still take some time until academia and the participatory web can fully identify themselves with one another as spaces of ‘public intellectualism’, scholarly debate and engagement. Through a narrative inquiry approach, this research explores how academic researchers engaged in digital scholarship practices perceive the effects of their activity on their professional identity. Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus is used as a theoretical construct and method to capture and understand the professional trajectories of the research participants and the significance of their digital practices on their perceived academic identity. The research suggests that academics engaged in digital practices experience a disjointed sense of identity. The findings presented in this article illustrate how experiences with and on the participatory web inform a new habitus which is at odds with a habitus that is traditionally expected in academia.