Talking the Talk and Fitting In: Troubling the Practices of Speaking? ‘What you are Worth’ in Higher Education in the UK

Michelle Addison*, G. Mountford Victoria

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this article we raise questions about fitting in pertaining to various classed identities within two UK Higher Education Institutions (HEI). We discuss the pains and privileges attached to accent and ways of speaking worth: Who is able to mobilize and capitalize on inscribed values, as they come to be attached to ways of talking? Accents and ways of talking are part of embodied class identities and whilst some carry connotations of intelligence, other ways of talking are positioned as lacking value, as well as other cultural meanings (Sayer 2002; Spencer, Clegg and Stackhouse 2013; Lawler 1999; Skeggs 1997; Southerton 2002; Taylor 2007; MacFarlane and Stuart-Smith 2012). In this article we discuss our empirical research carried out in two separate qualitative ESRC-funded research projects in the north of England with undergraduate students (Victoria Mountford) and university staff (Michelle Addison). Focusing primarily on white British ways of talking, we examine how embodying particular accents or ways of talking affect classed notions of 'fitting in' or 'standing out' (Reay et al 2009: 1; Abraham and Ingram 2013) in HE. In a climate of uncertainty in Higher Education we are concerned that the importance of demonstrating one's impact, value and worth comes down to more than just productivity, it is becoming demonstrably about being able to 'talk the talk'. Here we trouble the practices of speaking 'what you are worth'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalSociological Research Online
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

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