Alexander Griffiths


Twitter: @DrAlexGriffiths



Research title: The role of identity within educational contexts

Research Summary

Introduction & Background

I am an Educational Social Scientist with a specific focus on higher educational governance, strategy, and the transformation of academic labour in response to changes in the domestic and international social, economic, and political landscape. Affiliated with BPP University, where I am an Associate Professor of Academic Leadership and also act as Deputy Director (Academic Governance & Policy) and the University Proctor, I am also associated with the School of Education at the University of Glasgow where I am an EdD candidate. Further to this, I am a Social and Developmental Psychologist by training (MA, PhD, University of St Andrews; MPhil, University of Cambridge), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  

Broadly in my research, I take a critical stance on the purposes of higher education in order to further develop approaches to practice within the sector that are critically informed by research-led theoretical and empirical perspectives. In general, I am an identity theorist that seeks to synthesise both sociological and psychological theory to bring greater understanding to perspectives on how processes at the macro societal level bear influence on the micro psychological level in the development and maintenance of identities by individuals. 

Sociology of Education

My main research focus examines the effects of neoliberal ideology on the formation and maintenance of academic identities within the university space. I use Foucauldian theory on governmentality, discipline, and care of the self, and Bourdieusian theory on habitus, field, capital, and the use symbolic violence, in order to understand how academic identities are positioned and influenced by social, economic and political structural issues in the university space. Neoliberal philosophy saw its influence on higher education solidified with successive social, political, and economic moves in national and international education policy progressively implemented since the 1970's. Higher Education has become increasingly market focused, and the effects of this on learning, teaching, and the lived experiences of both staff and students in the sector have become all encompassing. My research interests therefore extend to the impact of these changes on student and professional identities and how the sector can negotiate the continuously shifting sands neoliberally-inspired educational policy presents. 


I have a significant interest in the Social Identity Approach (SIA) to understanding how individuals identify with groups and engage in group behaviour. Whilst my previous research work has examined the SIA in connection to memory within the areas of gender, religious, and political identification, my focus has become orientated towards examining the potential role SIA can play in understanding educationally-based group identification and its impact on both the academic and social experiences of staff and students engaged in Education settings. 

Synthesising Sociology and Psychology in the field of Identity Studies

In recent work I have also focused on interpreting Bourdieusian and Foucaldian theory on identity formation through the lens of social, cognitive, and developmental psychological theory. More specifically I am interested on how we can deepen our understandings on how processes such as governmentality, discipline, and symbolic violence occur at the individual psychological level when considering how identities are constituted and shaped to desired societal outcomes.