The CV as a symbol of the changing nature of academic life: performativity, prestige and self-presentation

Bruce Macfarlane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
269 Downloads (Pure)


The effects of performativity in academic life are widely discussed and debated. Yet most analysis relies on conventional forms of empirical enquiry, notably interviews and questionnaires. The curriculum vitae (CV) is a comparatively neglected source of insight into the changing nature of academic life that offers a fresh insight. Drawing on the CVs of three generations of UK academics, this exploratory study analyses changing patterns of self-representation. While the CVs of scholars first academically active from the mid-1960s are largely a historical record, those of subsequent generations increasingly resemble a personal marketing tool. There has been an increase in the use of self-laudatory language, the presentation of evidence with respect to the impact of scholarship, and a shift in publication patterns towards the journal article. These trends, and others reported in this paper, appear to be related to the effects of performativity and contemporary understandings of academic prestige.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Early online date11 Dec 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2018

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Higher Education Transformations


  • Academic CV
  • performativity
  • prestige
  • publication
  • research excellence framework
  • inter-generational analysis


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