In this thesis the relationships between epistemic stance and culture are examined.
Epistemic stance is the personal theory one holds in relation to knowledge and knowing,
and represents an integrated system of beliefs in relation to several important issues in
epistemology. Stance was studied as an unordered categorical variable, assuming all stances
hold equal merit. The framing of the study and the methodology were informed by critical
realist ideas. This added to the richness of this quantitative exploration of potentially
formative cultural communities and experiences for academics. The relationship between
the epistemic stances of academics and a range of sociocultural factors was explored via a
person-centred analysis approach, using data collected via a survey developed for the study.
Complete responses were received from 462 academic staff members and PhD students
from four large research-intensive Australian universities across eight disciplines. The
results indicate that the family, religious groups, disciplinary communities, organizational
structures (e.g. university departments and institutions), and university courses are all
potentially formative environments for academics’ epistemic stances. Further, some
experiences of remaining or moving between cultural communities seem important, as do
experiences of continuity within one cultural community versus experiences of multiplicity.
Discipline had the closest linkage with epistemic stance, followed by family and religion.
An academic’s current discipline was shown to be important, but also previous disciplines
they had taught or researched in, as well as their undergraduate major area. Only three out
of the eight disciplines studied here were dominated by one particular stance. The
limitations and affordances of taking a critical realist stance in this thesis are discussed,
along with an elaboration on the key findings. In particular, it is noted that when
considering groupings of academics we need to go beyond disciplinary boundaries. It is
proposed that epistemic stances themselves provide potentially useful groupings, and could
be seen as untapped and disconnected cultural communities.