Socio-Technological Enrollment as a Driver of Successful Doctoral Education

Georges Djohy
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 14  •  2019  •  pp. 161-185

This article uses the enrollment approach contained in the Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to challenge the deterministic perspectives of doctoral socialization and offers a new perspective based on co-construction between social and technological entities mobilized during the doctoral education as a driver of success.

Most studies have used deterministic approaches to show that the success of doctoral education is the outcome of socialization as shaped by the individual/personal, racial/ethnical, national/cultural, organizational/institutional and disciplinary contexts in which supervisors and supervisees cooperate. In doing so, they overlook the complexity of student-supervisor relationships and the gradual power-based processes of negotiation and persuasion that make the doctoral education successful. Analyzing the author’s own doctoral journey, the article highlights that the doctoral success is rather the result of a socio-technological enrollment as reflected in power-based supervisory politics.

The methodological approach consisted in an autoethnography that self-reflected on all stages of the doctoral processes and the author’s collaboration with his thesis supervisor from March 2012 until October 2016.

This paper reveals that the use of an approach of co-construction between technology and society also makes it possible to better understand the relationships between students and supervisors and the implications for socialization in a doctoral setting.

The success of doctoral socialization is not necessarily a matter of individuals, disciplines, or contexts, but rather it depends on the level of articulation and implementation of the supervisory politics inspired by the imbalanced power relations among those involved. The deconstruction of the doctoral supervisory politics reveals that enrollment is an important component that mobilizes human and non-human resources from various scales. Enrollment strategies play a key role in how doctoral students start, progress and complete their doctorate.

The results and analysis on socio-technological enrollment-based doctoral education can be useful in the context of support policies towards improving student supervision and facilitating doctoral studies in higher education.

The paper invites researchers in sociology, anthropology, psychology, education sciences, and other scientific disciplines to a theoretical reconsideration of student-supervisor relationships in the context of research and support to higher education.

The content of this article will help improve collaboration among supervisors and supervisees in higher education and could, thus, contribute to reducing attrition and doctoral dropout.

doctoral education, doctoral socialization, PhD students, supervisory politics, Actor-Network Theory (ANT), socio-technological enrollment
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