Combining work from the related but distinct fields of sociology of knowledge and sociology of education, we explore the effects of the changing landscape of higher education on the academic knowledge production system. Drawing on 100 interviews with faculty members from 34 disciplines at an elite private research university, we show that faculty members perceive exponentially increasing pressures to produce, and identify the ways that those pressures can negatively impact the knowledge creation process. We then examine the ways those pressures to produce influence how faculty evaluate their colleagues’ work, leading faculty to extend the benefit of the doubt, rely on reputation, and emphasize the peer review process, even as they simultaneously critique its weaknesses. Finally, we show that faculty members ultimately reconcile their perceptions of weaknesses in the current knowledge production system with their belief in that system by emphasizing their own and their colleagues’ commitment to resisting structural pressures to produce. While much of the existing body of scholarship on the changing higher education landscape has focused on teaching and learning outcomes, this study contributes to our understanding of how those changes impact the research process, underscoring the relationship between institutional structures and evaluative processes.
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