Accepted Paper:

Maintaining Fictions of Consensus: The Rhetoric of Scientific Performance  

Authors:

Christine Schwarz (University of Hanover)
Meike Levin-Keitel (Leibniz Universität Hannover)

Paper short abstract:

The contribution will unpack notions of scientific governance in analysing the rhetoric in academia about ‘performance’ based on case studies about performance measurement. This contributes to STS in unwrapping rhetoric of performance as something that merges old symbols and new master terms.

Paper long abstract:

The contribution will unpack notions of scientific governance by taking the rhetoric in academia about 'performance' as analytical object. University staff seems to be stressed by several processes of management, like evaluations and competitions. Whatever arises from those solutions, the new-academic language of excellence is one of those structural effects.

Public debate about scientific governance is swayed by propaganda of the new governance as well as critical defence against an invasion of further economization. Both seem to be arrived at a stalemate. In contrast to the best known pro-con-arguments our aim is to show what can be rescued by listening to these narrations of (de-)justifications of governing excellence.

Based on case studies from a research project about performance measurement in German universities we investigate the descriptions made in interviews on whether these systems work. We will present a) dominant dichotomies and their recurring distinctions,

b) most addressed points of reference and c) metaphors to discuss the measurability of (personal) scientific performance.

This will give insight into the mindsets of orientations and its spheres, which donate images to science (like economy, nature, family, traffic). The rhetoric can be analysed as maintenance of a fictional consensus about the conventions of representing peoples' scientific capabilities. The input would contribute to STS literature in unwrapping the rhetoric of performance as something that merges old symbols (like alma mater) and new master terms (like competition).

As alternative forms of interactions are welcomed we consider presenting the input as a guessing game or collective crossword puzzle.

Panel T020
Governing Excellent Science