Being a scarecrow in Oz: neoliberalism, higher education and the dynamics of ‘Imposterism’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter provides an autoethnographic account of an academic career defined by the personal and social consequences of a significant failure and its accompanying sense of shame and imposterism. By examining the interactional and situational dynamics of a higher education institution within the UK, the chapter demonstrates how the social context is crucial for understanding the affective dimensions of imposterism. The chapter suggests that the disciplinary dynamics at the heart of a market driven audit culture have worked to degrade academic labour, ensuring that all academics are vulnerable to the dynamics of imposterism. The chapter argues that the roots of the imposter phenomenon may be found in the wider social order; in its political economy and its associated socio-cultural practices of consecration and denigration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave handbook of imposter syndrome in higher education
EditorsMichelle Addison, Maddie Breeze, Yvette Taylor
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783030865702
ISBN (Print)9783030865696
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2022


  • Imposter phenomenon
  • Higher education
  • Neo-liberalism
  • Stigma


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