A voyage around the ideological islands of higher education research

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This paper explores the ideological orientations of higher education (HE) researchers in the form of a visual map, including three principal ‘islands’–Pragmatists Peninsula, Reformists Rock and Dystopians Retreat. The development of the HE research field in general, illustrated by the last 40 years of scholarship within Higher Education Research & Development in particular, is explained in relation to this metaphorical seascape. The analysis identifies a number of shifting publication patterns, such as the gradual radicalisation of HE scholarship, a growing dystopian literature and the reorientation of pragmatist research interests from micro- and departmental-level concerns to meso-level work directed at strategic, university-wide agendas. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-115
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number1
Early online dateFeb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


Macfarlane, B. (2022). A voyage around the ideological islands of higher education research. Higher Education Research and Development, 41(1), 107-115. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2021.2002275


  • Ideology
  • Publication
  • Research field
  • Higher education studies


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