by Michael Toze
This is the first time I’ve ever tried live blogging at a conference (or anything else). I’m not particularly prone to writer’s block – I tend to scribble a load of words down in no particular order, and then take days or weeks to sort them out. But that doesn’t work well for a live blog format. I’ve got to write something in a format where it’s suitable for others to read within hours or days.
And my first reaction is feeling the pressure is on. I’m conscious of watching the speakers trying to think about what clever observations I can make, preferably couched in suitably academic terms.
Yesterday, at the ECR day, we had quite a lot of conversation about prestige and precarity. As ECRs, we’re often encouraged to see everything we do as a trial run for a job interview. Want to talk about your research? Great, but how can you spin it as ‘impact’, or ‘knowledge exchange’? Written an article about a subject you love? Ah, but you need to send it to the right journal in order to play the REF game. Network. Shake hands. Make contacts. We spoke a bit about acknowledging vulnerability in conference presentations. But as ECRs, at most conferences we’re potentially in the room with people we might be asking to hire us at some point. Best not to admit to anything too embarrassing.
(Should I reference Bourdieu at this point? I’m pretty sure this is ‘field’. But at a conference, with slightly ropey access to my institutional log in, I’ve not got a text to hand I can quickly check – other than Wikipedia – and it would be really embarrassing if I misrepresent Bourdieu in a sociological blog. And anyway, is it a bit OTT to refer to Bourdieu in a blog post?)