Reflecting on representation: exploring critical tensions within doctoral training programmes in the UK

Rebecca Gordon, Lakshmi S. Bose

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


A recent resurgence of decolonisation movements and tensions between the university and wider civic spheres, alongside growing marketisation and internationalisation indicate critical tensions in higher education in the UK. Drawing on the concept of representation, defined as the process through which meaning is produced and exchanged (Hall, Representation: Cultural representations and signifying practices. Sage, 1997), we focus on the central role of the university in knowledge production. We explore the experiences of doctoral students in the social sciences and humanities in the UK, who we position as new ‘knowledge-makers’. Using narrative inquiry and fictionalised vignettes, we found that doctoral training continues to perpetuate existing Eurocentric and masculinised forms of logic, or ‘regimes of representation’. Participants expressed concern over hegemonic knowledge cultures that often marginalised their epistemic vantage points. However, reflection on representation can be driven and fostered by collective action to create powerful subcultures of critical reflexivity. We argue that these must be incorporated within the design of doctoral training programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStrategies for Supporting Inclusion and Diversity in the Academy
Subtitle of host publicationHigher Education, Aspiration and Inequality
EditorsGail Crimmins
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030435936
ISBN (Print)9783030435950, 9783030435929
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • representation
  • pedagogy
  • ethics


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