Jargon is absolutely a form of gatekeeping. There’s no reason to make it so difficult to understand, other than to make it “acceptable” in academic circles. What I’m trying to do is bridge that gap for people in whatever ways I can.
Seriously, thank you for reading, and right back at you!
It’s weird: As a student and academician, you’re trained and moulded to speak a certain way, write a certain way, use certain words and phrases which, while they DO have a very precise set of meanings, are created for the express purpose of being used in whatever part of The Academy you’re in to talk about things no one but your peer group is qualified to talk about.
Because You’ve All Crafted It That Way.
But then, when you’re teaching, when you’re instructing in your field, so much of your time is spent breaking down the jargon. Explaining things like what “ontology” means, or why we say “praxis” instead of “lived physical practice of belief” or why “connexion” and “connection” are different. Or even just what the phrase “begging the question” means.
I look at teaching as a mechanism and an opportunity for inverting the indoctrination process. Make the shibboleths and the understanding of their purposes available to Everyone, then there’s no need for them, any longer.
My thesis advisor specifically discouraged me from including an appendix that gave a reader-friendly explanation of key concepts. Even though it was a cross-disciplinary project where the people most likely to be interested in the implications of my findings wouldn’t have had the background necessary to follow the methods discussion.
I left it in anyway. One of my reviewers gave feedback to the effect of “good thing you included this so I could understand what you were talking about!” Didn’t quite underline it and send it back to my advisor, but it was a close thing…
Wowwwww. Yeah,that’s pretty bad. And thank you for fighting the good fight. As if a paper that goes totally misunderstood is better than a paper that people can actually understand!!!
Also, just to clarify, I think a lot of people have dichotomous thinking so ingrained that they’re having a hard time understanding this post and its purpose.
Just because academic jargon is a form of gatekeeping, does not mean it does not have other purposes as well. It helps to touch on very complex ideas without having to reexplain them, and honestly, I think a brief appendix at the end for that kind of thing, like the person above did, is a perfect solution. Because after all, if you already understand the concepts, you can just skip it.
But notice the discouragement of doing just such a thing from a person of influence. The hoarding of “elite” knowledge is absolutely sinister and a form of oppression, as History should have taught us.
That’s why bringing academic feet back to the ground is very, very crucial in a lot of areas.