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Want to meet at the XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology?

Published in Editor's Choice, Latest Posts, Theory by Cristina Costa on May 14, 2018

Are you attending the XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology in July 15-21, 2018? So are we. If you would like to meet up during the event please let us know. We would love to hear from you and and learn more about you and your research while at the event.

Future on Keyboard
Photo by Flickr ID Mike Lawrence (CC)

Mark Murphy and Cristina Costa from the Social Theory Applied team will be at the ISA Conference and  would like to use this opportunity to meet colleagues around the world interested in the application of Social Theory, independently of your line of inquiry or disciplinary background.

Our presentation ‘Digital Scholarship, Higher Education and the Future of the Public Intellectual‘ will feature in the RC07 Futures Research: Roles and Responsibility of the University in Shaping Future Societies session and is based on a paper recently published in a Special Issue of Futures: 




Since its heyday, the role of the public intellectual as traditionally understood has waned considerably, with less visibility accorded figures who assume this mantle in contemporary world affairs. This may be down to the fact that the modern notion of the intellectual embodies a set of social contradictions, contradictions that become magnified in a world of open access, social media and accelerated knowledge production. It may also have something to do with a decline in public sentiment for the sage on the stage figure, part of a broader decline in the legitimacy of academic knowledge more generally.

Another source of contradiction can be found in the fact that, in tandem with this general decline in public intellectualism, many universities have adopted an explicit concern with achieving societal impact via its intellectual activities. These universities are increasingly involved in knowledge exchange activities as a strategic response to calls for greater public accountability, and also as a method of ensuring the institution’s financial sustainability.

Given this current situation in which notions of engagement and knowledge transfer have taken centre stage in the search for impact, it is important to ask: what does the future hold for the public intellectual? And what is the role of the university when it comes to sustaining and enriching a broader intellectual culture in the public sphere? This paper explores these questions, particularly in the context of the spread of digital scholarship in the academy. This form of web-based academic scholarship, which valorises openness and public engagement, has the potential to change the shape and substance of public intellectualism. The paper explores this potential in detail, while at the same time outlining some of the challenges faced by the digital scholarship movement and its efforts to further ‘publicise’ intellectual life.

The session will take place on Wednesday, 18 July 2018, 15:30 in Room: 206D, MTCC North Building.

If you are attending ISA or happen to be in Toronto during the conference and would like to meet, please do get in touch with Mark Murphy: Mark.Murphy.2[@]  and Cristina Costa: Cristina2.Costa[@] . We look forward to meeting you in there.

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About the author /


Cristina is Associate Professor in Digital Education and Society in the Department of Education and Childhood, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. After completing a degree in Modern Languages and Literatures, Cristina worked as an EFL teacher in the Portuguese Navy. During that period she developed an interest in Learning Technologies and completed an MPhil in Educational Technologies at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. In 2007 she moved to the UK to take up a post in the field of Learning and Research Technologies at the University of Salford. In February 2013 she completed her PhD study on The participatory web in the context of academic research: landscapes of change and conflicts. From March 2013 to March 2018 she worked as a Lecturer in Digital Education at the University of Strathclyde. She was named Learning Technologist of the Year 2010 by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT).


  1. Avatar
    Joan Forbes

    Important and timely research, Mark and Cristina. Thank you. Your research on the future of the public intellectual of particular interest regarding our ‘Teacher in Public’ research programme (with Professor Christopher Fynsk, former Director, Centre for Modern Thought, University of Aberdeen; Dr Edith Doron, Centre for Modern Thought, University of Aberdeen; and Dr Archie Graham, School of Education, University of Aberdeen).

    The ‘Teacher in Public’ research programme orientating themes included: What do each of the terms in “the teacher in public” mean? What ideas of teaching are called upon (or for) and what assumptions about the relation between that activity and the social context of “the public”? What constitutes this theory and practice space? What are the fundamental perspectives regarding “the teacher in public” (including historical perspectives). What cultural and socio-political frameworks might be considered to address this question. What public? How do we conceive this public in concrete terms?

    I shall follow your project with interest. Thanks both.

  2. Avatar
    Cristina Costa

    This sounds very interesting Joan – Perhaps we should join forces for a project that combines both interests. Is there a website and/or any publications on your project that we can access? Looking forward to finding out more about it.

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