The self-importance of researchers

This interesting aside in Jamie Woodcock’s superb Working The Phones is worthy of further discussion. From loc 2698:

Researchers often attribute a level of importance to their own research that is not shared by others, assuming that because they spend so much time on it others will want to know all about it too.

How does this attitude develop? How widespread is it? How is it connected to how people see their occupational roles?

My hunch is that it’s absolutely central to academic exceptionalism: the notion that academic labour is intrinsically different to other forms of labour. The (self) importance of the scholarship goes hand-in-hand with a mystification of the conditions under which their scholarship is enacted.


Categories: Higher Education

3 replies »

  1. Maybe some answers in “The Invention of Creativity: Modern Society and the Culture of the New” Andreas Reckwitz, 5 May 2017.

  2. I posted this on Steve Blank’s blog post celebrating recent legislation, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, to help researchers monetize their results:
    “The next step is to use evidence based research and agile development to identify and promote academic research projects that benefit ‘we the people’ that fund them, not just for corporations that benefit from bringing new technologies to market.” https://steveblank.com/2017/01/15/23047/#comment-433560
    A self described ‘spook’ (intelligence officer) that arrived in Silicon Valley in 1978, he “moved from being an entrepreneur to teaching entrepreneurship to both undergraduate and graduate students at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University, Columbia University, NYU and UCSF.”
    He has promoted Lean and Agile development strategies to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and Imperial College in London.
    His insight? Stop building the next new thing. Get out of your office and ask people (customers) what they need.
    I think this could work for academics too, after they get over their delusion of being exceptional.

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