New INCHER Working Paper: "Misfit(s) in Academia" by Christian Johann Schmid
Science is always in a dialectical tension between conformity and deviance. Science knows and
needs its orthodoxies. However, to remain inclusive and innovative, it is also dependant on the socio-cultural diversity of its members and their deviations from the mainstream in research, teaching or science communication—in other words, the “misfit(s) in academia”. Both the field of science and previous research on higher education or science have been shown to have a conformity or order bias. Although we are learning ever more about how science or academic careers work in conventional ways, what do we know about deviations from the prevailing structures, socialization mechanisms, and practices? This paper begins with a brief discussion of some of the factors that make it difficult to empirically address deviance in science. This is followed by an overview of the current state of research on the forms, functions, and consequences of deviance in science in four thematic areas: (1) scientific careers and inequality, (2) field structures and working conditions, (3) deviance and heterodoxy, and (4) dramaturgical performance. Finally, the basic need and the specific desiderata for a sociology of deviance in science (which exceeds violations of the ethics of science) are elaborated.