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Systems of Status Symbolism in the Academic World: Comparative and Historic Analysis and Efficiency Evaluation

2010
Head: Sokolov, Mikhail M.
Department: Research Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science

Systems of academic status symbolism are an integral part of the entire institutional organization of modern research. Research can be divided into status groups that have a monopoly on certain positions in the market of academic labor (monopoly of specialists in this disciplinary field, position available only to figures of a certain rank) and legitimizing, in the eyes of colleagues, claims to recognition and attention to their work. Belonging to a status group is determined by possessing those symbols that correspond to this status – academic degrees and ranks, citation index, publications in reputable sources, the “quality” of affiliations and events that the person participated in and so on and so forth.

Maintaining the differentiating ability of these academic status symbols is one of the main conditions for the smooth running of scientific institutions. If they fail, academics will find it extremely difficult to understand who they should listen to, read, invite to conferences or try to hire. This task will be even more difficult for those who are not directly related to this particular academic field – university administrators, government officers, colleagues from other faculties and the general public, all of whom who rely on experts when making decisions about the scientific potential of an individual or an institution.

Research works on the institutional sociology of science have developed a number of hypotheses about how these systems that produce academic status can affect the behavior of researchers – their productiveness, selected strategies of career mobility, and cognitive work style (the most prominent names in this field include A.Abbott, P.Bourdieu, M.Lamont, R.Whitley). These considerations are inevitable for any discussion devoted to the efficiency of status-symbolic innovations (over the last few years in Russia this has included changes in awarding a degree, indicators of the productivity of academic activity etc). However most of these hypotheses are based on examining separate academic systems or even individual elements of these systems and do not include a systematic comparison. One of the main goals of this project is to work out a more systemic approach to the analysis of status symbolism in science that would allow for a comparative examination and the implemention of it for the five largest national academic systems – the UK, Germany, Russia, the US and France.

Publications:


Сафонова М. А. Британский опыт оценки исследовательской продуктивности: RAE и его критика // Университетское управление: практика и анализ. 2014. № 6. С. 69-81.
Соколов М. М., Губа К. С., Зименкова Т. В., Сафонова М. А., Чуйкина С. А. Как становятся профессорами: академические карьеры, рынки и власть в пяти странах / Науч. ред.: К. В. Иванов. М. : Новое литературное обозрение, 2015.