A study of research funding, legitimacy and symbolic violence in Academia.

This study is based on observations from a short seminar series that were held at a Swedish university on the topic of how to write successful research proposals.

In an attempt to present a view of “how professors think” about peer review and research funding, several universities has in recent years organized seminars where senior scholars talk about how to write successful grant proposals.

The seminars are a practical response to the changing nature of research funding in general, and to the fact that Swedish universities has become a kind of “entrepreneurial universities” with an external pressure to be highly competitive and productive.

The results of the analysis suggest that the message being delivered to the young scholars in the audience is quite ambivalent. Although the organization and the speakers seem genuinely sincere in their wish to guide the new generation of scholars, the performances contain at the same time a gentle form of symbolic violence.

One of the hypotheses put forward in this paper is that this seminar series is only a minor aspect of a more general crisis of legitimacy within Swedish academia concerning issues of funding.

It is also suggested that these seminars play a vital part in the socialization process of the new generation of scholars, a socialization process that normalizes the meaning and the consequences of the precarious and uncertain conditions of today’s academic life.


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