Valuation Practices and the Formation of Academic Identities: Exploring the Epistemic and Social Impacts of Performance Indicators in the Humanities
Drawing upon the concept of “regimes of valuation”, the study demonstrates that researchers in the humanities relate to different, and often contradictory, orders of worth when carrying out their everyday work. This heterogeneity indicates that disciplinary differences and academic age are important factors in order to understand how performance metrics affect valuation practices and epistemic decision-making in the humanities. Nevertheless, when making strategical investments in their future academic selves, humanities researchers tend to relate more narrowly to one dominant regime of valuing research; a regime in which performance indicators constitute a powerful discourse of what a successful academic subject is. This career driven mind-set, being most evident among PhD students and postdocs, impels humanities researchers to internalize rules of the indicator game. However, this does not occur in a non-conflictual way, creating tensions between epistemic decision-making and academic identity-formation. Regarding this, the machinery of performance metrics exists as an instrument of governmentality, producing a field of realities that researchers must act upon as they constitute themselves as a competitive and successful academic subject.