Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Vol 12, No 2

Disciplinary positioning struggles: Perspectives from early career academics

Sixian Hah
Issued Date: 9 Jul 2019


With no existing panel for applied linguistics at the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, academics working in this field in the UK struggle to position their work and themselves as researchers. Yet, gaining recognition for one’s expertise and positioning oneself in disciplinary terms are rites of passage for all academic researchers. This paper agues that disciplines, rather than being clearly defined and static areas of knowledge, are instead constituted and demarcated through the enactment of discursive practices. Focusing on qualitative research interviews with three early career academics out of a corpus of 30 interviews with academics from various career stages, and informed by ideas from Bakhtinian polyphony and positioning theory, I demonstrate how these academics often resist positions imposed on them by unnamed voices in larger discourses which constitute mainstream expectations about academia. The findings highlight how respondents’ struggles to position their research relate to changing institutional demands in the current climate of higher education in the UK. This paper also contributes to our understanding of disciplinary positioning as enacted through the qualitative research interview.

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DOI: 10.1558/jalpp.32820


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