Imposter syndrome as a public feeling

  • Maddie Breeze (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


What happens when we re-think 'imposter syndrome' in academic labour as a public feeling? What can imposter syndrome tell us about who gets to know what, about what, and how? This paper responds to these questions, situating feelings of imposterism in relation to 1) knowledge production, and 2) participation, marginalization, and stratification in higher education. I draw on emotional narratives of the feelings associated with imposter syndrome in the particular context of early career transitions; sensations of not belonging, feeling that ones' competence and success are fundamentally fraudulent and inauthentic, the conviction of having somehow 'tricked' students, colleagues, peer reviewers, and publishers, and the fear that it is only a matter of time before this is discovered. 'Imposter syndrome' is popularly framed as an individual – personal – problem, but this paper argues that this is a misrepresentation. Building upon precedents from feminist sociologies of emotion, and queer affect studies, and when we situate imposter syndrome in the context of an increasingly competitive and insecure academic workplace, the social and structural conditions of participation and knowledge production in early career academic labour come to the fore.
Period5 Apr 2017
Event titleBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference: Recovering the Social: Personal Troubles and Public Issues
Event typeConference
LocationEngland, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational