The Process of the Construction of Academic Harassment

  • YUKAWA Yayoi
    Graduate School of Social Sciences, Hitotsubashi University

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Other Title
  • アカデミック・ハラスメントの形成過程
  • アカデミック・ハラスメントの形成過程--医療系女性大学院生のライフストーリーから
  • アカデミック ハラスメント ノ ケイセイ カテイ イリョウケイ ジョセイ ダイガクインセイ ノ ライフストーリー カラ
  • A Case Study of a Female Graduate Student in Health Sciences
  • ──医療系女性大学院生のライフストーリーから──

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This paper aims to provide a sociological analysis of a mentor-student relationship in a graduate school through the investigation of the process by which academic harassment is constructed. I will examine the case of a female graduate student in the health science field with an emphasis on how she has come to recognize her mentorʼs behavior as “academic harassment.”<BR><BR>The research was conducted through half-structured interviews by the interactive-construction approach. By reconstructing the data as a life story, the following two points are revealed.<BR><BR>The first point is the cumulative process of the construction of academic harassment.<BR><BR>The student in this case has singled out some of her mentorʼs acts as harassment. Yet, it was not so much that each act emerged as harassment; rather, the acts were construed as harassment when put into the context of localized factors. Included are such factors as the mentorʼs negligent research in the laboratory, his enthusiasm in playing “department politics” at the cost of education, and his inadequate mentoring of other students. These factors have changed the studentʼs understanding of her own position as a student. She at first recognized herself as a junior research partner who could learn from her mentor, but later she saw herself as a powerless helper. As a result, she has reached the conclusion that she experienced academic exploitation in her time spent under the mentor.<BR><BR>The account above primarily represents the subjective world of the informant, but it also contains various clues for further research exploring the structural background: an unwritten system in a health science field where research data for a medical student who only wants clinical training to get his or her diploma are outsourced to a “ghost researcher” from a basic research unit; an opaque recruiting system that enables a professor to give his students preferential treatment; networks among clinical specialists and researchers. Thus, academic harassment is not merely an issue of clinical psychology for troubled students, as is presently argued, but reflects problems in the structural background.<BR><BR>Secondly, the interactive-construction approach has led me to change my attitude and to reconstruct the studentʼs experience as something other than “an issue of gender.” This is an unusual narrative for an academic woman because existing stories mainly focus on the gendered difficulties in womenʼs academic lives. Further research is necessary to examine the divergence. However, this study suggests a possible new counter-narrative to existing models. In these models, the colorfulness of the data in qualitative research tends to be abstracted by theoretical frames, some of which are influenced by so-called post-structural feminism. These frames often reduce all exploitive experiences in academic life to the issue of gender.<BR><BR>Based on the above examination, I argue that a sociological examination of the difficulties in mentor-student relationships will further enrich the existing studies on graduate school education in Japan, which mainly focus on macro-meso level analysis. My examination will also contribute to the advancement of higher education studies in view of contemporary feminist challenges.



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