What (a) to do about ‘impact’: a Bourdieusian critique

Article English OPEN
Colley, Helen (2013)

This paper presents a research-based, theoretically-informed contribution to the debate on ‘impact’ in educational research, and specifically a response to Gardner’s presidential address to the British Educational Research Association (2011). It begins by discussing the development of the research ‘impact’ agenda as a global phenomenon, and reviews the current state of debate about ‘impact’ in the UK’s Research Excellence Framework. It goes on to argue that a radical alternative perspective on this agenda is needed, and outlines Bourdieu’s sociology – including his much-neglected concept of illusio – as offering potential for generating critical insights into demands for ‘impact’. The term illusio in particular calls us to examine the ‘stakes’ that matter in the field of educational research: the objects of value that elicit commitment from players and are ‘worth the candle’. This framework is then applied first to analyse an account of how an ESRC-funded project that I led was received by different research ‘users’ as we sought to generate impact for our findings. Second, it is used to show that the field of educational research has changed; that it has bifurcated between the field of research production and that of research reception; and that the former is being subordinated to the latter. The paper concludes by arguing that, despite many educational researchers’ commitments to ‘make a difference ‘ in wider society, the research ‘impact’ imperative is one that encroaches on academic freedom; and that academics need to find collective ways in which to resist it.
  • References (51)
    51 references, page 1 of 6

    ANVUR (2012) Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del sistema Universitario e della Ricerca (National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes). Available online at: www.anvur.org (accessed 28 March 2013).

    Australian Research Council (2011) ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines (Canberra, Australian Research Council).

    Baker, E.L., O'Neil, H.F., Goodyear, R., Sylvester, R. and Choi, K. (n.d.) Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) Scientific Quality and Academic Impact Evaluation. Available online at: www.esrc.ac.uk/_images/EC%20Executive%20Summary%20-%20TLRP_tcm8- 22035.pdf (accessed 28 March 2013).

    Ball. S. (2012) Global Education Inc. New policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary (London, Routledge).

    Bourdieu, P. (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press).

    Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (London, Routledge).

    Bourdieu, P. (1993) Sociology in Question (London, Sage).

    Bourdieu, P. and Wacquant, L.J.D. (1992) An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (Cambridge, Polity Press).

    British Educational Research Association (BERA) (2011) Ethical guidelines for educational research. Available online at: http://www.bera.ac.uk/system/files/BERA%20Ethical%20Guidelines%202011.pdf (accessed 28 March 2013).

    Brooks, T. (2011) The academic community agree that political campaign slogans such as the Big Society have no place in research council delivery plans: the AHRC must act now. Available

  • Metrics
    views in OpenAIRE
    views in local repository
    downloads in local repository

    The information is available from the following content providers:

    From Number Of Views Number Of Downloads
    University of Huddersfield Repository - IRUS-UK 0 134
Share - Bookmark