Discussant at public defence of PhD at Stockholm Business School


The heavy doors of the old surgery clinic did not reduce the weight of responsibility as we went through them. I’ve done a few jobs as discussant at public PhD thesis defences in Denmark and in Finland, but this was my first in Sweden. Here, the process is different again. Rather than ask questions as one of a panel, the discussant (traditionally opponent) summarises the thesis followed by a one to one discussion in front of the examination panel and the audience, for most of the proceedings. With assembled audience of friends, family, colleagues of the candidate, as well as colleagues of supervisors (in Stockholm Business School), it’s a relatively heavy burden.

Luckily, Sara Ohlin’s thesis made the job about as easy as it could be. Clearly structured it was easy to summarise, and with enough theoretical, intellectual and empirical weight to enable a positive but testing discussion. The fashion industry was a new topic for me, but the thesis was first about theorising innovation in relation to practice theory and this was interesting stuff to discuss, and fashion, it turns out, a good case with which to be working this project.

As usual when visiting a city for the first time, I felt the need to run up a hill – Stockholm is decidedly undulating but with few proper hills.  An early run up Skinnarviksberget the morning after the defence though got me a prospect



Author: Matt Watson

A Human Geographer at the University of Sheffield, interested in how everyday human action and social orders make each other, with implications for sustainability and wellbeing.

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