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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The outside within : heteronomy in the training of forest researchers Gemme, Brigitte


This study of research training in the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Forestry is framed by Bourdieu’s theory of fields. Drawing from quantitative and qualitative sources of evidence, the study documents the training of recruits in a research field that is not autonomous (self-governed) but heteronomous (governed by others). UBC Forestry plays a key role in the reproduction of the field of forest research. The field of forest research is the social space located at the intersection of the scientific field (where scientists conduct systematic inquiry) and the forest sector (where companies, government, and others decide on the use of forests and their products). Forest research is not governed by its own rules but rather by the combined logics of its two parent fields. At stake in the field is the capacity to mobilize leading science to identify pathways to the solution of pressing forest-related problems. The Faculty of Forestry and its members rely on various forms of capital from both the scientific field and the forest sector, embracing research problems with social, economic, political, and environmental implications, and collaboration with other organizations. The faculty members, adjunct professors, and graduate students involved in the reproduction of the field of forest research come to Forestry with diverse disciplinary and professional backgrounds. Most research projects involve non-academic partners, and the impact of this involvement on students varies according to the partners’ involvement in research. The autonomy of students varies according to the ratio between the volume and forms of the capital they bring and the total capital required by their projects. Most students undertake a Master’s or Ph.D. degree program after observing a gap between their aspirations and the positions available to them. Their problematic relationship to their position of origin makes them likely to incorporate the habitus of forest research. As their training progresses, the majority of students become aligned with the field of forest research and aim to continue addressing forest-sector problems with the means of science. Some, however, strategically use their research training to launch or improve a different career.

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