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Reconceptualising organisational collaborations in social science doctoral education

Mills, David and James, David ORCID: 2020. Reconceptualising organisational collaborations in social science doctoral education. Higher Education 79 , pp. 791-809. 10.1007/s10734-019-00438-9

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Empirical social science research increasingly involves working collaboratively with organisations beyond the university. This paper contributes to the growing international literature on doctoral collaboration by exploring how UK doctoral students in the social sciences negotiate organisational collaborations. We draw on narrative interviews and administrative data to create a series of case-study vignettes. We juxtapose these with a theorisation of disciplinary knowledge practices to show how such collaborations are at once demanding and unpredictable, but also generative of new understanding and insights. We suggest that Burawoy’s (American Sociological Review, 70(1), 4–28, 2005) model of the ‘antagonistic interdependence’ of public, critical, professional and policy sociologies is helpful as a heuristic for conceptualising doctoral student experiences of a range of different (and often contradictory) forms of social scientific knowledge. Our analysis demonstrates that both instrumental and critical forms of social knowledge can emerge from organisational partnerships and placements. We call for further attention to the ‘generative paradoxes’ (Bartunek and Rynes Journal of Management, 40(5), 1181–1201, 2014) and ‘reflective entanglements’ (Jagoda 2016) that result from doctoral collaborations, and for doctoral pedagogies that help students use these experiences to develop criticality and see it as a key skill in social research.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 0018-1560
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 July 2019
Date of Acceptance: 24 July 2019
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2022 07:17

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