How to become competitive. Academic socialization at the postdoc stage


Prof. Dr. Julian Hamann (Humboldt University Berlin)

Prof. Dr. Kathia Serrano Velarde (Heidelberg University)

Maja Dahms (student assistant, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Sven Boniger (student assistant, Universität Heidelberg)

Jonas Gottschalk (Heidelberg University)

Tim Fenkner (Humboldt University Berlin)

This subproject analyses the socializing effects of academic competitions on postdocs. The study is designed to capture intrapersonal development in time through a qualitative panel study. Proceeding from a combination of socialization theory and sociology of (e)valuation, we argue that postdocs learn two things when participating in academic competitions: On the one hand, they realize that academic competitions are constitutive for the allocation of reputation, employment and resources. On the other hand, postdocs learn to deal with the demands of multiple competition and to position themselves in different types of competitions. We propose to approach the phenomenon of postdoc socialization by (1) investigating the relationship between competition and socialization. In doing so, we focus on the nexus between competitive attributions, postdocs’ self-perception and their coping strategies with regard to multiple competition. (2) Furthermore, we want to understand how experiences with academic competitions influence individual career and labor market expectations. By combining narrative interviews with ethnographic research, we plan to complete a longitudinal study of postdocs’ decision making practices regarding participation in both academic competitions and academic/non- academic labor markets.