19. The Sovereignty Drift in Academia: The Impact of Traditional and Emergent Hierarchies and Power-Asymmetries on Academic Life and Academic Performance

Track convener – Oliver Wieczorek M.A., Department of Sociology, Especially Sociological Theory, Bamberg, Germany, oliver.wieczorek@uni-bamberg.de

This panel focuses on hierarchies and power-structures that affect academic performance as well as academic and scholarly life and vice versa. These hierarchies either originate internally in the academic field (e.g. traditional elite-universities) or emerge externally due to attempts to introduce academic excellence. The two most visible examples of the latter attempts are the British “Research Excellence Framework” and the German “Exzellenzinitiative”. These developments have presumably an effect on scientific networks, research performance, entrepreneurialism, regional embeddedness of the universities and the relations between academia, polity, media and the economy. In other words, power structures and hierarchies impact both the university’s sovereignty as organizational unit and the autonomy of scholars– leading to a “sovereignty drift” in academia.

It will be debated to which extent this “academic drift” and subsequent developments associated with power-structures and hierarchies lead to a relative loss of autonomy in case of non-elite universities and a possible competitive advantages for elite universities. Contributions are welcome that focus on the impact of power-asymmetries and hierarchies on (1) working conditions at universities and laboratories, (2) scientific and entrepreneurial values, (3) research autonomy, (4) creativity and research diversity, (5) concepts of performance and accountability, (6) collaboration, competition and conflict with colleagues, companies and polity and (7) regional embeddedness.