This chapter focuses on the felt perceptions of academics engaged in digital scholarship activities, as forms of academic contributions. In so doing, it explores if and how such practices are redefining both the meaning of academia and what it feels to be (an) academic.
The notion of the World Wide Web as a source of information production and dissemination for academic knowledge workers is widely evoked in the research literature, much of which is enthusiastic about technology as a tool for change and emancipation. More concretely, this rhetoric around digital work asserts that the web can, and will, revolutionise academia by placing individuals at the centre of their scholarly activity and consequently transform academic practices and professional identities in significant ways. Yet, a contrasting body of research evidence suggests that the adoption of digital scholarship practices in the neoliberal university is not without its dilemmas and paradoxes. With digital scholarship practices being both empowering and restrictive, academics are often torn between the increased autonomy the web provides for knowledge creation and the distance it creates from the established norms that typify the academy.
Drawing on empirical evidence from a study with academics engaged in digital scholarship activities, this chapter offers reflections on digital scholars’ internal conflicts regarding how they feel, perceive and negotiate their role in academia. The analysis of the research will be supported by Bourdieu’s logic of practice and Honneth’s recognition theory to explain how academics incorporate and fight the neoliberal university. In doing so, the research will explore both how academics feel and develop a feeling for the academic game with the purpose of contributing to literature and ideas about academic identities in a neo-liberal context.