The “New Spirit of Academic Capitalism”: Can Scientists Create Generative Critique From Within?

Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 38 (1):27-51 (2016)
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The 21st-century university is a contested site of neoliberal transformation. Its role is moving away from that of a hub of culture, knowledge and critique to that of a provider of skills and employability for the market. The move towards a lean business model in the management of knowledge production is not an isolated phenomenon, but integral to the shifting economic, political and moral landscapes of global capitalism and the knowledge society. The literature discussing the changes in higher education, which could be collectively termed "critical studies of academia", remains fragmented and is yet to yield tangible resistance or envision viable alternative models of academic governance. This article discusses the possibility of generating constructive critique of "the new spirit of academic capitalism" from within. French Convention Theory is employed as a conceptual toolbox for unpacking the worlds of worth, conventions and justifications which operate beneath the surface of the marketisation, acceleration and casualisation of scientific labour - and suggested as a potential tool for building a generative sociology of critique.
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