What was, is and will be critical about journal publishing?

Bristow, Alexandra (2021). What was, is and will be critical about journal publishing? Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organizations, 21(4) pp. 23–55.

URL: http://www.ephemerajournal.org/contribution/what-w...


Responding to the call of this special issue, I consider the past, present and future of criticality in journal publishing. In particular, I ask what ‘being critical’ has meant over the ages in journal publishing and play with two senses of the word ‘critical’ – that of critique and that of being essential. I consider how these two aspects of criticality have evolved in relation to each other, interweaving and intertwining, through past into the present, and in what directions they might evolve in the future. I conclude that academic journal publishing has always been critical in both senses of the word, but that what matters for the future of critical publishing is the nuance of criticality. I argue that the current context is an opportune moment for a more radical reimagining of journals, and for their remaking as simultaneously more and less critical by moving beyond critique-as-censure and towards new modes of being essential. In this remaking, the nuance of ‘being critical’ needs to be negotiated through an open and reflexive politics of critique directed towards social, political and organisational action, and infused and tempered with a politics of care and marginalism.

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