To Leeds in April 2014

Old Map of LeedsI am really excited to have my presentation abstract accepted for the Association of Law Teachers (ALT) annual conference in Leeds during 13-15 April. The conference theme, “Responding to Change” is of particular interest to me in the context of my PhD research.

My presentation paper is entitled “‘O Where Are You Going? O Do You Imagine?’: Reproduction And Response –  A Reflexive Sociology Of Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning In Practical Legal Training?”. I think the nod to Auden’s poem is apposite to the conference theme.

The acceptance of that abstract means that I will be in Leeds for two conferences. The other conference is the British Sociological Association’s (BSA) annual conference, and the theme is “Changing Society”. My presentation paper for this conference is entitled “The Forks of Law: Structure and Agency in Australian Post-Graduate Pre-Admission Practical Legal Training.”

Each of the papers draws on different aspects of my PhD research about PLT practitioners’ engagement with scholarship of teaching and learning. The guiding questions in my research are: What are PLT practitioners’ motivations and capabilities for engaging with scholarship of teaching and learning? What symbolic support do PLT providers give to PLT practitioners’ engagement with scholarship of teaching and learning, and what resources do PLT providers allocate to this?

In approaching these questions, I am considering the relation between social structure and agency – are social structures “inscribed” into PLT practitioners’ practices? Can PLT practitioners’ practices affect structures in the PLT field? My approach is framed by sociology and cultural theory, rather than psychology.

In studying PLT practitioners in this way, I  effectively objectify them. In this context, I adopt Bourdieu’s “reflexive” sociology in which I, as the researcher, take “two steps back” to objectify my own objectification – this forces me to give an account of my own biases and assumptions.

In a similar but different way, I adopt de Certeau’s approach to “heterologies”, which involves both the “birds-eye” and the “kerb-side” view of PLT practitioners’ practices.

I am looking forward to learning from the other presenters at both conferences, and having an opportunity to subject my work to some constructive confrontation outside of Australia.