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We are the university

Corbett, M ORCID: 0000-0001-9617-4643 2017 , 'We are the university' , Pedagogy, Culture and Society, vol. 26, no. 2 , pp. 315-319 , doi: 10.1080/14681366.2017.1421514.

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This is an angry book. It is also a book that made me angry when I read it, in no small part because I have worked more or less dutifully within the system John Smyth describes as the toxic university. While the analysis is global in scope, he focuses particularly on the Australian context where he claims academics are the most regulated in the world. It is not new to argue that university academics are side-lined, disempowered, redefined, measured and assessed by an ascendant and aggressive class of quantitatively fixated administrators. Smyth provides a synthesis of a wide range of work relating to the neoliberal reframing of universities and those who work within them, largely from what I take to be a Marxist perspective. The university machinery Smyth describes is a late capitalist economic adjunct, thoroughly shaped by neoliberal processes producing knowledge and labour to benefit established interests. Like other late capitalist institutions, modern universities have been ‘deregulated’ in the sense that they have been cut loose from their original mission, which was to sit outside the hurly-burly of ordinary life, and particularly commerce, to act as spaces for critical reflection, deep, careful scholarship, and academic fellowship. What Smyth calls the ‘indigenous’ practices of the academy are founded on complex and careful judgment made in the context of collegiality, dialogue and reciprocity, rather than on the basis of contracts and marketised exchange relations. In Smyth’s analysis, academic traditions and historic practices have been torn to pieces, and the university has become a functionalist training ground for the late ‘cancer’ stages of capitalism (McMurtry 1999).

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Corbett, M
Keywords: higher education, academics
Journal or Publication Title: Pedagogy, Culture and Society
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1468-1366
DOI / ID Number: 10.1080/14681366.2017.1421514
Copyright Information:

© 2017 Michael Corbett

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