Photo by Sarah (CC)

Photo by Sarah (CC)

Just published: Costa, Cristina. “Outcasts on the inside: Academics Reinventing Themselves Online.” International Journal of Lifelong Education (2014): 1–17. doi:10.1080/02601370.2014.985752.

In this paper I wanted to continue to develop an aspect of my Ph.D research that I think has not been given enough attention when studying and discussing digital scholarship practices and that is ‘Identity’. How do digital scholarly practices impact on the perception of the professional ‘self’?

In a previous publication I looked at the habitus of digital scholars; a set of scholarly dispositions inspired and produced by research participants’ individual and collective strategies. For this paper, I looked at research participants’ habitus through the notion of ‘deviant trajectories’ capable of challenging established practices. As I reflected on my paper:

The participatory web as a tool bridging the outside world with scholarly practice encourages deviant trajectories in that it stimulates the development of new approaches to scholarship and related epistemologies of practice.

‘Deviant trajectories’ tend to translate in a sense of distinction. Yet, in the context of this research, such distinction more often than not results in the misecognition of digital practices:

Although research participants embody a distinctive identity, as digital scholars, they are only partially esteemed for it, because what the field of academia aspires is the establishment of a homogenous habitus, one that it can recognize as its own rather than one that questions its ordinary norm.

We could then question if digital scholarship practices are not getting the recognition they deserve, why is digital scholarship practices becoming more prominent? In my paper I concluded that:

The misrecognition of digital scholarship in the field of academia is balanced with the informal recognition of such practices on the field that produces it, i.e. the participatory web. This can lead to the acknowledgement and perception of the ‘self’ as a digital scholar in times when academia struggles to reinvent itself in light of social, cultural, political, economic and technological developments typical of the contemporary society. Such ‘critical crisis’, Bourdieu alleges, is a turning point likely to transform practice and the social and professional identity perceptions associated with it as structures and dispositions come into disruption.

In other words, digital technologies are not only disrupting scholarly practices, they are also challenging the identity of the academic profession.


I look forward to your comments on the research and/or examples from your own experience.

You can access the full paper here. If you don’t have access to it, you can use this link to get one of the 50 free copies to the article (please only use this link if you do not have access to it so more people can access it).