Conceptualising Doctoral Writing as an Affective-political Practice

James Burford
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 12  •  2017  •  pp. 017-032
Aim/Purpose: This article offers a conceptual summary and critique of existing literature on doctoral writing and emotion. The article seeks to intervene in current debates about doctoral writing by re-positioning it as an affective-political practice

Background: Over recent decades public interest in the doctorate has expanded as it has become re-framed as a key component of national success in the global knowledge economy. It is within this context that the practice of doctoral writing has crystallised as an object of interest. While researchers have examined the increased regulation, surveillance, and intensification of doctoral writing, often this work is motivated to develop pedagogies that support students to meet these new expectations. At this point, there has been limited attention to what broad changes to the meanings and practices of doctoral writing feel like for students.

Methodology: The paper offers a conceptual review that examines the ways in which doctoral writing tends to be understood. A review of literature in the areas of doctoral writing, doctoral emotion, and critical studies of academic labour was undertaken in order to produce a more comprehensive understanding of the political and emotional dynamics of doctoral writing.

Contribution: It is intended that this conceptual research paper help researchers attend to the emotional context of doctoral writing in the current university context. Critical studies of academic work and life are identified as a possible platform for the development of future doctoral education research, and the conceptual tool of “affective-politics” is advanced as a novel frame for approaching doctoral writing research.
affect, affective-politics, doctoral writing, doctoral education, emotion, neoliberalism
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